Artists Are Fighting AI With AI

Mental Outlaw
22 Jan 202416:51

TLDRThe video discusses the impact of AI on various job sectors, highlighting a shift from initial predictions that AI would primarily replace manual labor jobs. Instead, fields like digital art have been significantly affected by AI tools such as DALL-E and MidJourney, which utilize existing artworks to generate new images. Artists are now fighting back with legal actions and innovative technologies like 'glazing,' which prevents AI from training on protected images. This defense includes tools that deliberately distort AI training, demonstrating a 'fight fire with fire' approach to protect artists' copyrights and livelihoods.


  • 🤖 Automation and AI were expected to primarily threaten manual labor jobs, but it's the digital art industry that has been significantly impacted by AI tools like Dolly, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion.
  • 🎨 The internet has been a boon for artists, reducing gatekeeping and allowing more people to create and share their work, which has been a significant factor in the success of artists in the 21st century.
  • 🚜 Contrary to expectations, professions like carpentry, plumbing, and truck driving have not yet seen widespread job loss due to AI, despite advancements in self-driving technology.
  • 🖼️ AI art tools are trained on the work of human artists, which has led to controversy and legal challenges, as artists feel their work is being used to replace their jobs.
  • 📉 Artists have been fighting back against AI-generated artwork through the courts, but current copyright laws have proven inadequate in addressing the nuances of AI art creation.
  • 🛡️ A new tool called Glaze, developed at the University of Chicago, allows artists to make minor alterations to their images, effectively 'cloaking' them and preventing AI from learning from their artwork.
  • 🔍 Glazing introduces visual distortions that are minor to the human eye but significant enough to disrupt neural networks, as demonstrated by the effectiveness of the tool against AI plagiarism.
  • 🏴 Some glazing tools, like Nightshade, go a step further by not only protecting art but also sabotaging neural networks that use Nightshade-cloaked images in their training sets.
  • 🔄 The process of 'poisoning' AI training sets with distorted images can significantly impair the AI's ability to learn and recognize certain subjects accurately, potentially requiring extensive retraining.
  • 🚨 There is debate over whether tools like Nightshade should be considered harmful malware, with some advocating for their restriction, while others argue for the freedom of artists to protect their work.
  • 🌐 The development and use of these protective tools contribute to the growing body of free software available to artists, highlighting the ongoing battle between AI and human creativity.

Q & A

  • What was the common belief about which jobs would be the first to be taken by automation?

    -The common belief was that manual labor jobs, particularly low-skill ones, would be the first to be taken by automation.

  • How has the internet impacted the field of art and artists?

    -The internet has removed many gatekeeping barriers, allowing artists to showcase their work to a broader audience without the need for traditional art show or museum exposure. It has also reduced the costs associated with creating and sharing art, especially with the advent of digital tools.

  • What are some examples of AI tools that have impacted the digital art industry?

    -Examples of AI tools that have impacted the digital art industry include Dolly 3, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion.

  • How have artists been responding to AI-generated artwork?

    -Artists have been responding by filing lawsuits against companies that create AI art tools, though this has not been very successful due to the difficulty of applying current copyright laws to AI art generation.

  • What is the purpose of the 'glazing' technique developed at the University of Chicago?

    -The purpose of the 'glazing' technique is to make small alterations to an image that filter neural networks from being trained on the original image, thus protecting the artist's work from being used by AI without permission.

  • What is the 'cloaking' effect in the context of the glazing tool?

    -The 'cloaking' effect refers to the visual distortions added to an image by the glazing tool, which are intended to prevent AI from accurately learning and replicating the original artwork.

  • How do offensive tools like Nightshade work in the context of AI and art?

    -Offensive tools like Nightshade work by sabotaging neural networks that use Nightshade-processed images in their training set, causing the AI to produce distorted or incorrect outputs when generating artwork.

  • What is the potential issue with using poisoned images in training AI models?

    -Using poisoned images can significantly impair the AI's ability to learn and make accurate predictions or generate correct outputs, as the corrupted data can mislead the neural network's training process.

  • Why is there debate over whether tools like Nightshade should be considered malware?

    -There is debate because Nightshade and similar tools can corrupt AI training data, which some argue is harmful to AI systems. However, others believe that artists should have the right to protect their work using any means necessary, including such offensive tools.

  • What are some challenges faced by artists when considering the use of glazing tools on their artwork?

    -Artists may be hesitant to use glazing tools due to the visual distortions they cause, which could potentially detract from the aesthetic quality of their artwork, especially if the alterations are significant.

  • How might the development of more advanced glazing tools impact the future of AI-generated art?

    -As glazing tools become more advanced and less visually intrusive, they could potentially offer artists a more effective way to protect their work from unauthorized AI use, shaping the future landscape of AI-generated art.

  • What is the significance of the fact that artists are using AI tools to protect their artwork from other AI tools?

    -It signifies a form of technological arms race where the same technology that threatens the artist's livelihood is also being used to safeguard their creative rights, highlighting the complex and evolving relationship between AI and human creativity.



🤖 The Unexpected Impact of AI on Jobs

The video script begins by addressing common misconceptions about AI's impact on employment, specifically challenging the idea that AI primarily threatens low-skill manual labor jobs. It reflects on historical technological advances in agriculture and industrialization, illustrating how they allowed humanity to shift from basic survival tasks to specialized professions. The narrative suggests that AI, rather than targeting manual jobs, has significantly affected fields like digital art, where AI tools like DALL-E and MidJourney are transforming creative processes. The discussion highlights how these tools train on existing artworks, causing concern among artists about the originality and ownership of their creations.


🎨 Artists Battle AI Over Copyright Issues

The second paragraph delves into how digital artists are responding to AI-generated artworks that use their styles without permission. It discusses ongoing legal battles where artists struggle to protect their copyrights against AI tools, which the current laws are ill-equipped to handle. The script introduces 'Glaze,' a tool developed at the University of Chicago that modifies images to prevent AI from training on them, thus protecting artists' intellectual property. Despite its potential, the tool also distorts images, which might deter artists from using it. The effectiveness of such AI countermeasures is visually demonstrated through comparative images.


🔧 Fighting AI With AI: The Irony and Strategy

This paragraph explores the irony and strategic use of AI tools to protect artistic works from being exploited by other AI systems. It introduces 'Nightshade,' a proactive tool that sabotages AI models trained on protected images, thereby 'poisoning' the AI's ability to accurately replicate or recognize specific subjects like cats or dogs. The discussion also covers the broader implications and potential legal issues surrounding tools like Nightshade, which some argue could be considered malware due to their disruptive nature. The segment emphasizes the complex interplay between developing AI technologies and the protective measures artists are compelled to adopt.


👾 Ethical and Legal Dilemmas in AI Art Warfare

The final paragraph discusses the ethical and legal ramifications of using aggressive AI tools like Nightshade, which intentionally corrupt AI data sets to protect artists' copyrights. It questions whether such measures should be considered malicious and potentially illegal. The script reflects on the broader conflict between artists and tech developers, highlighting the continual arms race in AI capabilities and countermeasures. The narrator invites viewers to consider the morality and effectiveness of these tools, hinting at a future where digital warfare may predominantly be fought between competing AI systems.



💡AI-generated artwork

AI-generated artwork refers to images or artistic expressions created by artificial intelligence algorithms rather than human artists. In the video, this concept is central as it discusses the impact of AI tools like DALL-E, MidJourney, and Stable Diffusion on the traditional art industry. These tools, by using training data derived from human-created artworks, have sparked controversy and legal challenges from artists who feel their creative output is being used without compensation.


Glazing is a technique used to protect images from being used as training data by AI models. It involves applying a digital filter to alter images slightly so they can't be effectively used to train AI without authorization. In the video, 'glazing' is mentioned as a method developed by researchers to combat unauthorized use of artworks by AI, highlighting its potential to introduce distortions that degrade image quality but protect copyrights.


Nightshade is described in the video as an 'offensive tool' designed to sabotage AI neural networks if they use images protected by this tool in their training datasets. It acts by introducing 'poisoned' examples that significantly disrupt the AI's learning process, leading to inaccurate outputs and thus reducing the efficacy of the AI models trained on such data. This reflects a proactive approach by artists and developers to protect intellectual property rights against AI infringement.

💡Neural networks

Neural networks are a type of machine learning algorithms modeled after the human brain, designed to recognize patterns and make decisions. The video discusses how neural networks power AI tools that create artworks and other applications like self-driving cars. The effectiveness of these networks depends heavily on the quality and variety of their training data, which is a central issue in the controversy over AI-generated art.

💡Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement occurs when copyrighted material is used without permission, leading to potential legal actions. The video touches on the difficulties artists face in proving that AI-generated artworks based on their styles or specific works constitute copyright infringement under current laws, which were not designed to address the complexities introduced by AI technology.

💡Prompt engineers

Prompt engineers are individuals skilled in crafting queries or inputs that guide AI in generating specific outputs, particularly in the context of AI-generated art. The video highlights how these skills have become valuable as the ability to effectively 'prompt' an AI can produce high-quality artistic outputs, directly competing with human artists in both commercial and creative fields.


Industrialization refers to the development of industries in a country or region on a wide scale, marked by the introduction of machinery. The video references industrialization as a historical shift that greatly reduced manual labor in agriculture, paralleling modern concerns about AI automation replacing jobs in various sectors, including creative ones.

💡Self-driving AI

Self-driving AI refers to artificial intelligence systems that operate autonomous vehicles. While discussing AI's impact, the video notes that, contrary to initial fears, AI has not yet significantly replaced jobs in fields like trucking, where self-driving technology is still maturing and faces significant regulatory and practical hurdles.

💡Digital tools

Digital tools in art refer to software and devices like graphics tablets and photo editing software that enable artists to create digital artwork. The video contrasts these tools with traditional art supplies, noting their lower cost and higher flexibility, which democratizes the creation and modification of art but also makes art more susceptible to duplication and manipulation by AI.


Gatekeeping in the context of the art world refers to the control over access to art markets, exhibitions, and opportunities, traditionally held by galleries, curators, and critics. The video discusses how the internet has reduced gatekeeping, allowing more artists to showcase their work directly to the public, though this also introduces challenges related to AI-generated art and the dilution of individual artist's visibility and rights.


AI is affecting fields unexpectedly, targeting digital art rather than manual labor as initially predicted.

Historical tech advancements freed people from agricultural labor, enabling specializations in various fields.

The internet has democratized access for artists, reducing gatekeeping from traditional art venues.

Digital tools have lowered the barriers to entry for new artists and simplified the creative process.

Despite concerns, AI has not yet displaced manual labor jobs like carpentry or truck driving as effectively as anticipated.

Digital artists face significant challenges from AI tools like DALL-E, MidJourney, and Stable Diffusion that use their styles for automation.

Artists are legally challenging AI-generated artwork, although current copyright laws struggle to address these new technologies.

Glaze, a tool from the University of Chicago, alters images slightly to prevent AI from training on them effectively.

Nightshade acts as an 'offensive' tool by sabotaging AI networks that use protected images in their training sets.

Some AI-generated images show telltale signs of AI origin, such as unrealistic hands and faces.

There's a high-level ongoing conflict between creators of AI tools and digital artists over copyright and originality.

Efforts like Nightshade could be considered malware as they intentionally disrupt AI training processes.

The ongoing development of AI protection tools underscores a 'fight fire with fire' strategy among artists.

Free software like Glaze and Nightshade represents a push towards artist empowerment against AI exploitation.

The debate continues over the legality and ethical implications of defensive and offensive tools against AI in the art world.