What is so wrong with it, you might ask. After all, it’s just a bit of harmless fun feeding one’s own images into these apps. To answer these seemingly innocent questions, it’s important to have a brief—even cursory—understanding of the way AI was formed as far as the intentions of big corporations are concerned.
Jon Lam, a Canada-based storyboard artist in the video game and animation industry, whose posts on the shady ethics of the Lensa AI app went viral recently, told Vogue India that most tech companies were trying to develop AI in a vacuum until private data began to get monetised in public. “Why do we see all our peers and workers in the public forum? Everything, from non-consensual porn to our medical database, is being monetised. They let their private programs be open source that allows others to use this for monetary purposes and make millions and now, this also includes art,” he says.
The Stable Diffusion Model that Lensa AI follows for its “Magic Avatar” feature treads murky territory in the way it bypasses copyrighted images. Abhishek Mankotia, an interaction designer, explains that this model “uses copyrighted images from living artists without their consent or without even crediting them. The technology was developed in the first place to bypass copyrighted images under the garb of doing so with non-profit means, but companies who use this model are often not non-profit.”