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Metaverse News

AI Image Generators Paint A Mixed Picture For the Metaverse

In the tech industry, 2022 has become the year of AI. In the previous twelve months, we’ve seen a surge in AI art, tool, writers, music composers, and AI-based skin analysis. But the undoubted star of the show has been the AI image creator. Across social media, vibrant digital graphics made by a computer and a simple word prompt have slowly supplanted photos.

This technology is already existing in the metaverse. This year, Mona launched an AI Material Designer that lets producers on its platform to generate object textures without requiring code. Their CEO disclosed to The Block: “We are actively working to build and incorporate these types of tools into our creation pipeline for our community. We’re not too far away from users being able to generate assets and entire worlds using AI inside Mona.”

Even so, AI image generation has not been met with universal approval. The Chinese government has effectively banned the manufacturing of AI-generated media without watermarks as of this week. Adobe began selling AI-generated photos as stock images last week, endangering the revenue of creatives. Computer-generated artwork hitting the top of ArtStation’s ‘Explore’ section has also outraged artists.

One new concern about using AI in the metaverse is that people’s photos could be changed. In a scary case study, the technology magazine Ars Technica used only seven photos from a volunteer to make up a fake man. With just this small amount of data, they were able to put John in a number of unpleasant photos. This was done with a pornographic photo, a uniform that looked paramilitary, and an orange prison jumpsuit. Even though these examples have a little bit of a “uncanny valley” look to them, a bigger dataset or more advanced AI could make much more suspicious images.

With video now accounting for the majority of internet traffic, the highest risk in the metaverse is no longer associated with your photographs. As platforms like TikTok have exploded in popularity in recent years, fully realistic metaverse avatars pose the greatest risk. This vast trove of user-generated footage could serve as a massive dataset in a bizarre, dystopian near future. Used to build walking, talking versions of you that are, for all intents and purposes, identical to you.

Catfishing, in which people are tricked into relationships with fake online identities, could become dangerous. Why not become them in a virtual world instead of taking a photo or two? As more individuals around the world spend more time online, identity theft is on the rise. The Identity Theft Resource Center says that it went up by 36% in the US between 2020 and 2021. Metaverse platforms will have to work hard to make sure that the problem doesn’t get worse in their virtual worlds powered by AI.

AI Images vs Creators

The most common complaint about art made by AI is that it can hurt an artist’s career and income in a big way. Greg Rutkowski is a Polish fantasy artist who doesn’t like it when people use AI art generators. This year, Rutkowski has become the most popular source of ideas for AIs that make pictures. It’s not hard to see why. His instantly recognizable style has been used in the art for games like Dungeons & Dragons, Horizon: Forbidden West from Sony, Anno from Ubisoft, and Magic: The Gathering.

In September, he remarked to Technology Review on his art becoming dominated by AI imitations. “It’s been just a month. What about in a year? I probably won’t be able to find my work out there because [the internet] will be flooded with AI art… That’s concerning.”

Metaverse’s business model is at risk. Digital fashion is a metaverse economy trend. Burberry, Givenchy, Louis Vuitton, and Prada have entered NFT. In May, a virtual Gucci bag sold for more than the real one.

Don Gossen, the founder and CEO of Nevermined AG, believes there’s a middle ground where big names can still provide inspiration or a leading role. Others have already gotten on the AI train, so it’s up to us to take advantage. Sam Hamilton, who is the Creative Director of the Decentraland Foundation, says that the technology could and should be used to improve the metaverse.

Decentraland held its own Metaverse Art Week in August of this year. At the event, AI was utilised to model buildings and read poetry, and it was also used to make marketing materials.

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