Technology is often beneficial but lately with many new programs launching within the artificial intelligence sector, its been borderline magical. As Uncle Ben from the Amazing Spiderman so famously says, “with great power, comes great responsibility” and it is up to us now to understand that while we may have what we saw as tomorrow’s tech, we need to ensure it helps, not harms, today.
Visual media has always had a great influence on pop culture and through it, movements in the world. From the famous Rosie the Riveter image to, “arm(ies) of right-wing memelords who created a thriving culture of Obama hatred” during his presidency (Madrigal 2018). These images form the basis of our immediate reactions to people and events going so far as to seep into our stereotypes of groups or political affiliations. Meme-based comedy is often harmless as a December 2020 study shows with memes actually reduce participants’ anxiety related to the pandemic (Dolan 2022). This said other “studies suggest that neither the quality of its content, nor its proximity to the truth, has much of an impact on a meme’s popularity” which translates to a range of content that might spread misinformation, disinformation, or even misinformation on a massive scale and with expedited transmission (Staff 2023).
Launched in September 2022, Dall-E is an artificial intelligence program that creates an image by juxtaposing from the online digital database it accesses to generate a prompt-based visual. This is a whole new ballgame for the world of memes with artistic and creative freedom no longer becoming limited to one’s artistic ability but rather an idea that could now become reality through sheer creativity. OpenAI’s website speaks to how Dall-E has sprouted from the, “same type of neural network” as the now popular Chat-GPT and “can also be used to generate images with high fidelity” when provided with a prompt (Wang 2021). The site also offers an option for one to upload their own image to edit which further extends the possiblities. From politicians forced to eat strange hotdogs to nonsensical abstracts that rival Monet– or copy his style, Dall-E is breaking barriers in the prospects of artsy AI.
I decided to go out on my own and try the AI myself, being especially intrigued by the limit of images- only 50 that I was able to create. I went in with an air of caution tinged with some fun hope knowing that, “most of the pictures that DALL·E mini creates are pretty abstract and nonsensical. But every once in a while, it’ll strike gold and find exactly what you’re looking for” (Antonelli 2022). After navigating the simplistic webpage that has a very sleek, tech-like feel, I typed in my severely intellectual query,
‘large mystical forest with a small frog in the center crying tears of joy’.
I was honestly quite pleased with what the program gave me and the image overall is something that I could definitely not have created on my own.
After seeing what Dall-E came up with and the small, almost imperceptible Dall-E logo at the corner of my generated image I began to wonder as to the copyright details and complexities that are involved with AI generators, both textual and visual. Does Dall-E own this image because the program technically ‘remixed’ it despite generally human-made remixes credit original creators of images? The code is open-source, does anyone own all of the internet’s images to the point where access and use of them layered can be controlled? These questions will take some further research however this program and its code could follow a similar line as cookbooks as they cannot be copyrighted unless specific criteria is met (Henein 2015).
After trying the tech out for myself and seeing on social media how much of an impact it can make I can safely agree that the tech has surpassed our expectations. From new visuals that could create stories like this, tech can only help if we learn and evolve to mitigate its use and strategically implement it in our lives and workplaces.
Antonelli, William. “How to Use Dall·e Mini, the Viral AI Tool That Can Turn Any Prompt into a Series of Pictures.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 14 June 2022, https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/dall-e-mini.
Dolan, Eric W. “Memes Can Help People Psychologically Cope with the COVID-19 Pandemic.” PsyPost, 29 Oct. 2021, https://www.psypost.org/2021/10/memes-can-help-people-psychologically-cope-with-the-covid-19-pandemic-62031.
Henein, Peter. “You Say Tomaydo , I Say No Copyright Infringement: Recipe Book Not an Original Compilation – Copyright – Canada.” You Say Tomaydo , I Say No Copyright Infringement: Recipe Book Not An Original Compilation – Copyright – Canada, Cassels, 29 Oct. 2015, https://www.mondaq.com/canada/copyright/439012/you-say-tomaydo-i-say-no-copyright-infringement-recipe-book-not-an-original-compilation.
Madrigal, Alexis C. “What Sorry to Bother You Gets Right about Memes.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 24 July 2018, https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/07/what-sorry-to-bother-you-gets-right-about-the-power-of-memes/565835/.
Psychology Today Staff. “Memes.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/memes.
Wang, Justin Jay. “Dall·E: Creating Images from Text.” DALL·E: Creating Images from Text, OpenAI, 5 Jan. 2021, https://openai.com/research/dall-e.