We’re Witnessing the Birth of a New Artistic Medium

Creative artificial intelligence is the latest and, in some ways, most surprising and exhilarating art form in the world. It also isn’t fully formed yet. That tension is causing some confusion.

If you’re familiar at all with the use of creative artificial intelligence, you probably know it through one of the popular text-to-image AI applications, which use sprawling databases of existing imagery to convert a written prompt into a new picture. DALL-E 2 from OpenAI is the best known, but more recent and arguably cooler applications include Midjourney and Stable Diffusion. Their products can be astonishing: realistic street scenes, strawberry-covered ice-cream mountains in space, abstract concepts such as “hurt feelings” and “reminiscence” rendered in a way that feels visually accurate, if not entirely coherent. The best way to get a sense of their power is to test them yourself, and many are. Stable Diffusion reportedly has a million users just a month after its release, and at least that many people are using DALL-E 2.

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