It’s been an interesting year. It seems like we’re saying that a lot nowadays. Over the course of 2022 we went from artificial intelligence apps that made mostly abstract but interesting (and sometimes disturbing) images based on prompts, to apps like Midjourney that can create infinite, amazing, quality, professional looking art in moments based on intricately detailed prompts. It can do so in just about any style, including styles prompted by particular artists. Now the ChatGPT app is starting to make similar waves among the writing community, and will no doubt progress just as exponentially.
The rapid growth in the use and quality of AI art has both wowed us and created numerous concerns. I’ve seen convincing arguments that AI is plagiarizing artists and authors, and I’ve seen convincing and well thought arguments explaining how AI isn’t plagiarism or copying.
Either way, artists and authors are left justifiably wondering if they’ll be able to sell their work in a few years. I’m not shy about admitting that I don’t have the technical skill or knowledge to really understand who is correct in the above debate, but I do that worker displacement through automation has a long history—as old as capitalism itself—and so its important for us to take those concerns seriously.
It would be great if AI and automation could be used to further human thriving, ease the labor burden on the working class while improving quality of life for all, and foster a more harmonious relationship between human societies and our ecosystems. Perhaps one day we’ll get there. I have hope that we will indeed. After all, that is—in essence—the solarpunk vision for a better future.
But we aren’t there, and getting there will take complete system change. Under capitalism, such tools are more likely to be turned toward profits for those who already have more than enough wealth and power. And so in the mean time, it’s important that we take care to be part of the solution rather than exacerbating a problem. Until the time comes when the tools of automation are used for the benefit of all rather than the enrichment of the few, we have a hard time throwing our support behind them.
We recognize that there is a lot of positive potential for human societies in the development and use of artificial intelligence. We also recognize that there is a lot of justifiable concern over AI and the plagiarizing of human art and literary works, as well as the potential—particularly under capitalism—of AI being used to displace paying jobs for human artists and authors as a means of further enriching those at the top. Solarpunk Magazine is and remains a venue for human authors and artists to showcase their work. As such, until further notice, we’ve implemented a strict new policy on submissions using artificial intelligence:
We do not accept any work created or altered by artificial intelligence
programs such as, but not limited to, Midjourney and ChatGPT.
Justine Norton-Kertson is an author, game maker, and the co-editor-in-chief of Solarpunk Magazine.