Artists Take a ‘Poisonous’ Approach in Their Fight Against Generative AI





An image of the AI-generated opening credits for Secret Invasion.

Artists are fighting back against generative artificial intelligence with a new “data poisoning” tool called Nightshade. The program lets artists add invisible changes to the pixels in their artwork before uploading it, according to the MIT Technology Review. From there Nightshade tricks image-generating AI models like Midjourney, DALL-E, and Stable Diffusion by swapping images. For example, if the original artist’s work depicted a car, Nightshade would make it appear as a cow to the AI systems attempting to scrape images online.

Nightshade was created by a research team from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. The creators have since submitted their research for peer review.

“Nightshade poison effects “bleed through” to related concepts, and multiple attacks can composed together in a single prompt. Surprisingly, we show that a moderate number of Nightshade attacks can destabilize general features in a text-to-image generative model, effectively disabling its ability to generate meaningful images,” according to the research, originally obtained by the MIT Technology Review.

The team behind Nightshade also created Glaze, a tool that allows artists to “mask” their personal style to protect it from being scraped by AI companies.

AI has become a hot topic over the last year after ChatGPT’s meteoric rise in popularity. Companies have been scrambling to find ways to incorporate the technology. In the race to gain a competitive edge, warnings from experts have gone largely unheeded. As a result, ramifications of AI usage is already being felt in the art, music, and publishing industries. 

In the past two months, the U.S. Copyright Office has declined copyright protections to multiple images created by AI. In addition, district courts have ruled in specific cases that work lacking “human authorship” disqualifies it for copyright protections.

The use of AI was also a lynchpin issue in the Hollywood writers strike – and still is for SAG-AFTRA, who has yet to find common ground with big media companies. Protections against the use of AI were included in both unions’ respective list of demands. 

Earlier this month, professional designers on X, formerly Twitter, accused Disney for allegedly using a Shutterstock image generated by artificial intelligence. The media giant denied the accusations.

Screenshot by Roger Cheng/Cord Cutters News

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