Saturday 27 May 2023

AI or not AI? That is the question.

We had a twitter storm spin up over the winner of the blogger vote in the #SPFBO cover contest. A "fun" minor addition to the SPFBO contest, which is, of course, all about the words.

The entry form asked each author 

 and any answer to the AI question other than "no" meant that the cover wasn't considered for the contest.

The author of the winning cover answered "no".

People on Twitter started to dispute that no with some vigour. The artist came on to confirm the 'no' and was called a liar.

I reached out to the author and artist for further confirmation.  I emphasised privately to the artist that if it was true, deliberately or through some mistake with the form, they should just come clean and we could all move on. But they were adamant that no AI had been involved. I gave multiple opportunities to U-turn on this.

The non-verbal part of the artist's confirmation had to wait on the artist getting home from work and getting access to their images.

So - we're at the stage in civilisation where an artist can be called upon to prove they really created an image. I fully understand why. It also seems reasonable that a non-professional artist at their day job could require a few hours to get home and assemble such evidence. So we waited.

Sean supplied a bunch of sketches and photos along with an explanation of how he created the cover using these resources and photoshop - he also supplied the many-layered photoshop file for the cover.

I showed those to the SPFBO judges and the 2,500 members of the SPFBO facebook group, and the overwhelming response was that they were convinced. Not one person said they were sure that it was AI generated.

So, around 1am I shared the link to this page on twitter. People there still weren't convinced. At 2am, in response to my increasing distress over the situation Sean removed the cover from the contest, and I was able adjust the competition result and get to bed.

I've woken up to compelling evidence that the cover was at least partly AI generated, breaking the rules of the contest. So, in addition to having been withdrawn, it's now also disqualified under the existing rules.

There won't be a cover contest going forward.

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  1. it doesn't satisy me, unfortunately. all the sketches look as if they were done after the fact. the artist's sketches don't match the level of rendering at all. the psd file also proves what we already knew. minimal amount of editing over ai generated images. no layers for the main dude (the main point of contention). no layers for lighting? i'm afraid you're still being hoodwinked.

  2. Sorry to hear this fake artist decided to lie to you and the author, then double down and waste even more of people's time. The cover contest was fun and it is a shame for authors and artists that it is being cancelled due to AI grifters- although I understand why you'd not want to deal with the chaos. If you ever do decide to run the contest again, I'd suggest having some artists in the group or reviewing the cover shortlist; as many artists spotted this as AI straight away. Creators must stand together against this plagiarism program! All this rubbish that artists are having to deal with now will affect all creative industries unless pushed back against.

  3. It's very unfortunate how it went down, but I think we should all be glad that the truth came out eventually, for the sake of the author and other people affected by the scammer. I hope that once ai is regulated properly we can get back to celebrating creativity without fear, and that this or a similar competition might pop up again.

    Thank you for your diligence in pursuing this matter, and I hope it never happens again.

    1. Oh nice worries there, as all of your whining made mark decide to cut out the cover contest entirely! BRAVO!
      ps, this was written by chat gpt.

  4. On the plus side, at least the scammer was caught.

  5. I get covers/art are done through photoshop/illustrator. Its a shame all artists have to suffer for 1. Does anyone do hand drawn art anymore??

    1. It wasn't just that the "artist" used Photoshop. He used AI to generate several images, and then used PS to splice them into one cohesive image. So, most of the work wasn't his. It's not fair to actual artists to pawn that off as real work, and not fair to the author that purchased the work; I'm sure the guy didn't charge a rate that took the AI generation into account, especially if he didn't even disclose that fact to the customer. And, not fit for a contest celebrating good art on book covers. I've never been much of an artist myself - I did a little drawing as a kid, and some computer multimedia stuff in high school - but I do not consider this kind of stuff true art.

  6. Really enjoyed the depth of analysis!"