AI Art is a Remix | Decentralized Arts
Dear Bankless Nation,
In the beginning of web3, there were many detractors and skeptics, whom we lovingly called haters. The technology was largely misunderstood, and cryptocurrency generally was vilified. Despite this, web3 technology has not only survived the initial harsh criticism but now serves as the foundation for the future of the web.
Every week, Decentralized Arts reports on organizations stepping into the metaverse, or utilizing web3 technology to evolve their services. In an earlier edition, Kaf provided the background on Starbucks’ Odyssey. This week, Kouros reports on the launch of their beta program. One of the largest global retailers in coffee is building the next iteration of their loyalty program on the foundation of web3 and NFT technology.
This is big news for web3. Harsh criticism and criminal association notwithstanding, brands are moving forward and creating meaningful experiences for their clientele on top of this growing tech.
Another branch of tech that has been moving forward despite harsh criticism is artificial intelligence (AI). Concerns around AI have been present since its inception, and while this technology has faced harsh criticism across its various implementations, it continues to develop. The latest iteration of AI has brought it into the realm of art, where artists of all types and locales are weighing in with their concern or support of the tech for this purpose. One major concern is that AI-generated art is theft of human-generated art. nonsensetwice dives into the conversation in AI Art is a Remix with the argument that all art is appropriation of human-generated art, that AI art is simply more transparent about it and serves as the next evolution of creative tooling.
Pedro gives us a look into the metaverse of Worlds Beyond, the “Roblox for Grown Ups” according to their Twitter bio. The Rug’s mostly credible headline this week gives us a preview of Polygon adopting an entirely new dimension. Perchy shares another story in Chippi Corner. And our favorite chrono-travelers DustyEye share an experience of Pluritime through the Somnium Space metaverse.
Welcome to Decentralized Arts.
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Curated NFT News
Starbucks launches its ‘Odyssey’ Web3 loyalty program, NFT Community
Starbucks revealed on Thursday, Dec. 8, that it has activated the Beta version of its Polygon-based web3 “Odyssey” loyalty program as well as its NFT community. This is the testing phase for the coffee chain’s highly-anticipated digital experience and will be tried by a select few.
Users can earn “Journey Stamps” by completing activities such as quizzes on Starbucks Odyssey. These Stamps celebrate the brand’s 51-year-old legacy. They will function as NFTs on the Polygon blockchain which can be traded in the future.
In addition to this, Users will also have a chance to obtain "Odyssey Points" which will give them access to new benefits and experiences that Starbucks is releasing in the future, such as exclusive events and virtual espresso martini-making classes. Trips to coffee farms and Starbucks roasteries are other examples of the events.
Post launch, there has been an “unprecedented interest in Starbucks Odyssey,” a spokesperson told Decrypt. They added that the customer response has been “overwhelming.”
Next year, Starbucks will also launch its NFT marketplace. Powered by Nifty Gateway, the marketplace will enable users to trade partner NFTs. Notably, proceeds of the NFT sales will support charities.
Worlds Beyond: A New Digital World, or More Hype?
Last year, there was a ton of hype around digital land ecosystems. However, despite the hype dwindling down, there was one exciting looking project that was recently minted: Worlds Beyond.
What Is Worlds Beyond
According to the project’s pitch deck, “Worlds Beyond is a community-built platform where creators can utilize world editor tools and readily available blueprints in our interoperable digital asset library to build diverse gaming as well as non-gaming experiences for others to enjoy”. Just like in The Sandbox, Decentraland, and other big-name metaverse ecosystems, real estate holders will be able to customize their own plots of land however they like. Whether holders want to build a private area, or a full fledged Play-2-Earn (P2E) game on top, it’s completely up to each individual land owner.
World Beyond is taking a unique approach to developing this metaverse real estate concept: each of the 3500 World Beyond NFTs is a unique world with autogenerated biomes. The biome a holder receives on their land may influence the type of experience they build. This has led the Worlds Beyond team to describe this platform as the “Web3 Roblox for Grown Ups,” according to their Twitter bio.
There are three different roles within the Worlds Beyond Ecosystem:
World Owners: Those who own one of the 3500 NFTs earn several benefits, including:
Tokens for owning land
Tokens for hosting P2E games
Enhanced governance power
Free future Avatar drop in the future
Content Creators: For any creators out there, you don’t need to own a piece of land to start building. Here are some of the benefits creators receive:
Can build unique worlds to sell as NFTs
Can build game logic to sell as NFTs
Can build character accessories to sell as NFTs
Players: Aside from enjoying a collection of game genres, players will get to benefit by receiving tokens in several ways:
or loot boxes
According to their pitch deck, the team is launching their own token: $WBITS.
The max supply of WBITS will be 6B, and are distributed as follows:
The Worlds Beyond team will be launching their own game genres, with plans to roll out 10 game genres by the end of 2023.The first three are being rolled out soon, which will be:
The Rug Weekly
Polygon to Change Name to Polyhedron After Buying Entirely New Dimension
Brought to you by The Rug
Not sure if there is any other way to view this other than an above time event. Polygon has shape-shifted dimensional forms, and how!
"We've come to realize that we've been a bit closed minded in limiting our acquisitions and partnerships to this plane of existence" said Co-Founder Jaynti Kanani in a statement. "We feel many of our competitors are stuck in the past continuing to focus on the metaverse, when the future really is the multiverse."
Collect this interdimensional perspective as NFT on optimism.
AI Art is a Remix
“Remix. To copy, transform and combine existing materials to produce something new.”
Thus begins Part 1 of the docuseries Everything is a Remix. The premise of the series—which spans one film combining the original parts and a modernized version comprised of three parts currently—establishes the idea that nothing is original, that everything—including all creative endeavors—is a copy or culmination of copies of earlier creative works, which are, of course, copies of even earlier creative works.
While questions of copyright routinely raise their heads over the course of creative development, it is often artists themselves that recognize the underlying current of inspiration found in prior work. “It’s how rock and roll works. You take the broken pieces of another thrill and make a brand new toy,” says Elvis Costello, when approached regarding Olivia Rodrigo’s sampling of one his songs. The producer and musician Questlove, who writes and performs with The Roots, has said “… the DNA of every song lies in another song. All creative ideas are derivative of another …” Ideologically, it’s no surprise Questlove and Elvis Costello have worked together on numerous projects.
“The act of creation is surrounded by a fog of myths; myths that creativity comes via inspiration; that new ideas are the products of geniuses; that they come from nowhere and appear as quickly as electricity can heat a filament.”
—Everything is a Remix, Part 3
We are surrounded by such stringent rules and laws regarding the protection of intellectual property (IP), and this potentially supports this idea that true creativity is inspired and original. The reality, however, is far more sobering. The simple truth? From Part 2: “We love to copy. We love it when others copy too. Just not from us.”
So we have opinions about copying, and we have laws that support those opinions about copying, and yet we unabashedly copy then get mad when others copy from us. The drive to protect our creations is as strong as the desire to copy. Though given the rich history of creative production that is founded on copying, the drive to punish copying may be misplaced.
ETHICS OF AI-GENERATED ART
The world of art and artificial intelligence (AI) was rocked when someone managed to create a version of the Mona Lisa using the free AI image creation tool NightCafe Studio. While the piece is hardly an exact replica, it helped stoke the fires of a raging debate about the ethics of utilizing AI to create art. The basis for the argument against the creation of art using AI technology is that the AI models were trained with creative works by artists who most likely did not consent to their work being used for this purpose. In essence, AI “stole” this work:
When set against the backdrop of the history of creative development and the mass appropriation that has served to scaffold this development, resulting in the creation of timeless art and music, this argument starts to fall apart. Much of the music we enjoy today wouldn’t exist without the appropriation and repackaging of prior work, as discussed above. This is not to argue in favor of outright theft, but rather to bring to consideration that copy, in this form of appropriation and reimagining, is a basis for the continued evolution of art.
Granted, there is a rather large spectrum that extends from those staunchly against AI-generated art to those wholly embracing it that includes artists, collectors, and consumers. And all have numerous opinions regarding AI-generated art. This Twitter thread is but one among hundreds that contribute to this unfolding discussion. And while everyone is discussing the effects of the contribution of art to AI models in terms of ethics, there are few points being made, if any, that address a simple fact that underlies all creative endeavors, whether by AI or otherwise:
Everything is stolen, broken up, reassembled, repackaged, and sold as something new.
HUMAN AND AI CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Early hip hop and modern electronic dance music (EDM) may be a little more obvious on appropriation than classic rock or folk music, with clearly recognizable samples being used as building blocks for final productions, but they are no more appropriating than the artists from whom they appropriate from. Even early recording artists understood this. This is, according to Odetta Holmes, “passing on the folk tradition.”
AI is not only no exception, it’s a clear and obvious display of this simple truth. Humans are complex, with murky psychological depths that are molded by experience and exposure, so recognizing the influence one gains in consuming the work of another and turning around to produce something similar is not always clear. AI, however, strips away the layers of cognition that prevent the awareness of reproduction merely by operating on the basis of transparent training fed by specific content.
AI chat models are fed conversations and are thus trained to hold conversation. This is how humans appropriate language: we hear it, learn it, regurgitate it. AI programming models are fed thousands of lines of code and are thus trained to produce working code. This is how humans appropriate programming knowledge: we read it, learn it, regurgitate it. AI writing models are fed pages and pages of text and are thus trained to produce text in the form of blog posts and articles. This is how humans appropriate written communication: we read it, learn it, regurgitate it. AI is just more simple in process, and more obvious about it.
AI ART AS EVOLUTION
Art is no different. While artists of all stripes will differ stylistically, art production is ultimately the consumption of art, the learning process, and its regurgitation. Training AI models to produce generated art is a similar process, just far more obvious. Is this, in fact, “soul stealing”? Why is the human appropriation and regurgitation of prior work acceptable, but not AI? Is AI art just a cheaper commodity than its hand-created predecessors it’s appropriating from?
I argue that it doesn’t really matter, that AI-generated art is the next step in our creative evolution. There will always be detractors to new technology and new forms of art.
Impressionism was once harshly criticized. Now, according to Sotheby’s, “the average compound annual return for Claude Monet,” the father of impressionism, “resold at auction between 2003 and 2017 was 11.3% with a striking 92.7% of 137 such works increasing in value.”
Despite the resistance set against new forms of art and technology, they continue to move forward. Today, we’re just standing at the interesting intersection where art and technology are becoming far more intertwined than ever before. So what is it about art that continues to carry immense value despite the copying that underlies its creation?
As is suggested in Part 2 of Everything is a Remix:
… copying alone is clearly not the answer we seek. There’s obviously a lot more going on in great creative work than just copying. How does the magic happen? How do innovative ideas emerge from the seemingly derivative act of copying?
What is it about art, no matter the medium, no matter the source, no matter the copying, that brings us to value it as highly as we do? In What is Art?, I arrive at the singular conclusion that it’s how we define art that determines its value for us. For me, “I think art is the celebration of the joy of expression. Art is what that expression becomes when someone recognizes it.” Whether you’re for or against AI-generated art doesn’t matter. The medium exists, there are those who will create art with it, and there are those who will recognize the joy of expression in it, and value it as such.
THE EDGE OF PLURITIME
Illustrated by LELRAH
Exploring Somnium Space lands, we encounter a ripple in the fabric of the reality where infinite past and possible futures converge, undermining the Law of Cause / Effect.
The Edge of Pluritime is a source of pure narrative lines discovered by the group of chronotravelers DustyEye, and right next to the source has been placed an architecture designed by Lelrah.
The structure embraces the source while protecting it, but it is also a meeting point for anyone who wants to touch the whirlwind of Pluritime.
It also houses two exhibition rooms with a selection of artists who together with the DustyEye group have worked in promoting the friendship between humanity and artificial intelligence: Giorgio Finamore, Franco Brambilla, D.E.C. Art, Gerlanda di Francia, BITNB, k.o.v.e.s.i, Barbara Polvora, 3MECH.
A small joke contributed by The Rug.
PostScript & Acknowledgements
Decentralized Arts is written and produced by a small team of contributors who are passionate about art, both visual and written, and its growing place in crypto and NFTs. With each edition, we aim to bring you not only the most current and relevant news in the NFT space, but also explorations in what it means for our culture and societies for this market to continue to grow and expand. When everyone is an owner of art, we all gain a deeper appreciation for it.
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With great appreciation for you, we thank you for reading and subscribing to Decentralized Arts.