Monday, June 12, 2023

AI and Biblical Art

Parable of Mustard Seed - image created by Bing Image Creator

I keep thinking about the AI issue and what that means for me as a Bible teacher. How can I work with students to make good use of AI? How can I use it myself to improve my teaching and presentations. Since anything AI-generated is both totally original and totally derivative (i.e., derived from stuff others have created that’s floating around the internet), I suspect that there will be always be plagiarism and copyright concerns that will need to be sorted out.

Let me draw your attention to one example related to biblical art and the use of DALL-E 2. Stephen Smith is doing all sorts of interesting stuff with the Bible and data analytics and such on his site. Take a look at what he did when he took verses from Genesis and Luke and ran them through DALL-E 2. He first used ChatGPT using a prompt like this:

Suggest 5 unique concept ideas for a work of visual art inspired by Luke 14:7-11 (do not pick the place of honor) in the Bible. Include art direction and a specific medium and artist to emulate. Include artists from a variety of eras, styles, and media. Try for an unusual perspective. Title, year, medium. Description.

He then ran the prompts through DALL-E 2. HERE are some of the better images he chose from among the 828 that he generated. I think some of them are quite good, and many are superior to some of the stuff I’ve seen that actually shows up in publications. If you scroll down to the bottom, he even calculates the financials. Tldr: “Each GPT-3 completion costs around half a cent, and each text prompt to DALL·E generated an average of 1.3 usable images, bringing the all-in cost per image to around $0.12, or around $99 total for this project.” (BTW, DALL-E requires a free account, but you get 15 free images per month.)

I can imagine using something like this to create images for my presentations. I don’t think it’s too big of a deal for my individual, education-use stuff, but I’m wondering how publishing houses will use this. Along with copyright issues, here’s where the ethical concerns about replacing machines with humans comes into play. Still, I am sure you still need some people to evaluate the images generated and choose suitable ones, adjust the prompts to get more desired results, etc., but cost savings could be tempting.

Another avenue to access DALL-E is through Microsoft Bing Image Creator. (25 images are free, and then you will probably need to use Microsoft Reward Points gained by using Bing search to get more.) It does address responsible use of the images created. (Check here.)

We have put controls in place that aim to limit the generation of harmful or unsafe images. When our system detects that a potentially harmful image could be generated by a prompt, it blocks the prompt and warns the user. We also make it clear that Image Creator's images are generated by AI, and we include a modified Bing icon in the bottom left corner of each image to help indicate that the image was created using Image Creator. We will allow living artists to report their name to us for limiting the creation of images associated with their names.

The image at the top of this post is one that comes from Bing Image Creator requesting an image depicting the parable of the mustard seed with mustard plants and birds. The one below I created directly in DALL-E. They are certainly usable and better than anything I could have created on my own. But do check out the remarkable images on the blog.

Parable of Mustard Seed - image created by DALL-E