It looks like Rick Sanchez of Rick and Morty fame is yet again raising a big middle finger to the people that surround him. Unfortunately, this time it isn’t very funny. At least not to the organized artists of his studio. It seems show creator Justin Roiland has been using AI art in the latest video game based on the series and actual creators aren’t too happy about it.
If you aren’t familiar with what AI art is, the term refers to art that is generated via the use of artificial intelligence. Essentially, AI can mimic — and to some extent simulate — human thought processes. However, AI itself isn’t creating new art. Instead, the art is generated by an algebraic formula, an algorithm that creates the final product via code that aggregates other artworks (made by human artists). The popular Lensa app, for example, uses AI to aggregate your selfies into a variety of different artistic styles.
And while AI can be a tool used by actual artists, many creators worry that it just may be putting them out of work. While AI aggregates art, it doesn’t pay for the inspiration — and the idea of companies firing their art departments outright has been a source of fear, speculation, and frustration in the last years as AI art has become increasingly prevalent on social media. TikTok is currently giving serious side-eye to Justin Roiland, the creator of the animated series and video game Rick and Morty, and the FPS game High on Life for his use of AI art.
Roiland recently admitted to using the MidJourney AI to add finishing touches and create Voice Over in High on Life. TikTok user @marshal4ll_lee responded with a video that carried low-key accusatory energy. And while many commenters responding to the post didn’t see the problem, more than a few responded with familiar fears that AI was coming for artists’ jobs. Indeed, the “touches” in question would almost certainly have been created by human artists only a few years ago (if they were created at all).
User psherman42wallaby posted a video in response to marshal4ll_lee pointing out that Roiland has a history of anti-labor sentiment and that the use of AI comes on the heels of his studio, Squanch Games, unionizing. He called Roiland a “prime suspect” in replacing actual human artists with “robots.”
According to the original post, the AI finishing touches in High of Life appear to be background movie posters which seem to be purposely made to appear machine-generated. It isn’t plain at this time if Roiland will continue to use AI art for larger tasks moving forward. Roiland has spoken to Sky News about AI, calling it “a tool that has the potential to make content creation incredibly accessible. I don’t know how many years away we are, but all you will need to be is somebody with some big ideas.”