The fierce debate over generative AI art recently flared up in a Facebook group, when a user shared several AI art images depicting a character from the video game Baldur’s Gate 3 — and then got banned from the group after they ran afoul of anti-AI art moderators and other users.

The user then retreated to a subreddit called Defending AI Art to elicit sympathy from fellow AI art enthusiasts and lick their metaphorical wounds.

"I’m disheartened by the amount of hate," posted Reddit user marilynjayna, who had generated AI fan art images of Astarion, an elf-vampire character with flamboyant white hair and a devilish smirk from the hit game Baldur’s Gate 3.

They posted the images, generated with the AI art platform Midjourney, into an unnamed Facebook group that didn't explicitly ban AI art. At first, they said, they got a positive reaction from other people — but then got flamed by AI art haters.

"I got probably 5 or 6 positive comments and 50 likes, then negative comments started rolling in," they whined. "Some comments were quite nasty."

Even though they had spent "6 hours to get 5 images that resembled the character," marilynjayna said the moderators took the view that AI art is "theft" and then explicitly banned AI art in the Facebook group.

Other Redditors came to marilynjayna's defense, saying that anti-AI art people are "jealous" and "crazy and bitter."

"I feel like a lot of the anti-AI people just... want there to be less beautiful art in the world," one Redditor replied in the same thread.

"I hope someday being anti-AI is seen as ableist," another mused.

Yet another Redditor basically called non-AI artists elitists who — get this — just want to be fairly compensated for their craft.

"The reason is simple, before AI they enjoyed a monopoly on art that was gatekept [sic] by having a lot of illustration skill and the less great art there was the more demand for it was, hence they could ramp up prices for their work," they seethed.

Setting aside the usual arguments on the anti- and pro-AI art debate and the nature of creativity itself, perhaps the negative reaction that the Redditor encountered is part of a sea change in opinion among many people that think corporate AI platforms are exploitive and extractive in nature because their datasets rely on copyrighted material without the original artists' permission. And that's without getting into AI's negative drag on the environment.

One Redditor in the same thread noticed the same shifting tide.

"I went through the same thing in a recent post," they wrote. "[L]ast post months ago didn't get this kind of crazy hate."

Other examples that AI is suffering from an image crisis include dismal public opinion polling, the recent booing of a pro-AI sizzle reel at SXSW, and the mass public opprobrium that the CTO for OpenAI received for supposedly not knowing if the company's text-to-video program Sora was trained on YouTube and other public sources.

Add to all that the lawsuits OpenAI and other platforms are facing and you get a general sense that people are not going to take this AI stuff lying down, despite exhortations that people should not resist AI in the name of "progress."

As for Redditor marilynjayna, when reached for comment, they stuck to their guns on AI art and said that people getting angry at AI art is like a "photorealistic artist getting angry at a photographer."

"Just because machines can do what humans can do so much faster, it doesn’t make it less special when humans can do it on their own," they said. "And I don’t think it’s right to be hateful to people using this new tech, any more than it would be right to hate a photographer just because he didn’t spend days painstakingly drawing his image."

More on AI art: New Tool Lets Artists "Poison" Their Work to Mess Up AI Trained on It

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