We have indeed entered a new era of AI technology. As this innovation makes waves in the art world people are asking, is this tech viable? Are tools like DALL-E 2, Midjourney, and NightCafe part of a technological renaissance or a short-lived trend? The answer you receive to this question will depend greatly on who you ask. However, one thing is certain. This technology definitely has its limitations. After one creator used the tool to generate 100 gay couples it’s clear that one of those limitations is diversity.
Looking to the Experts
Meet Dan Leveille, Director of Product Marketing at Deviant Art. Leveille is also the developer of Equaldex, a tool that tracks the progress of LGBTQ+ rights across the world. Clearly well-versed in both tech and art, Leveille is uniquely positioned to opine on this particular matter. This is especially true because he frequently puts AI tools to the test. Leveille made headlines earlier this year when he used these tools to generate concept art of Tom Holland as Link from Legend of Zelda. He also used the tool to fan-cast all of the characters in the franchise.
What Do Gay Couples Look Like?
Leveille took the tools to task once again to test them on another prompt. “I asked Midjourney for 100 gay couples using the same simple prompt: ‘photo of a gay couple.'” said Leveille on Instagram. The result certainly raises eyebrows. As detailed as the images are almost every single couple is white, young, and skinny. In fact, many of them look almost identical.
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White Is Not the Default
It’s not impossible for these tools to generate people of color, but unless you ask for it, Midjourney delivers exclusively white, young, and skinny. Whether this is a result of the tool itself or a product of the sources it draws from is unclear. Either way, it’s plain to see that the tool is failing to compensate for a very real lack of diversity. White is not the default. Skinny is not the default. Young is not the default. There is no excuse for this misstep.
“Midjourney is one of the most amazing technologies I’ve ever used,” said Leveille. “But the lack of diversity is really concerning. 99% of the time, it defaults to White people unless you’ve specified.” Keep scrolling for more examples of the images the prompt generated. Take this as a reminder of the uphill battle faced by gay couples that aren’t white, skinny, and young.
Follow Dan Leveille on Instagram for more experimentation with AI art.