Announcing 30 New Images in 30 Days – one new image being added to the Better Images of AI Library each day of November! We and AI Founder and Better Images of AI coordinator Tania Duarte reflects on the excitement and challenges involved in this next stage of the Better Images of AI project.
In December 2021, Better Images of AI launched what at the time was intended to be a small amount of inspiration images. The hope was that providing some images which attempted to show alternative ways to represent AI technologies and impacts, based on research about how current available images were harmful or unhelpful, would inspire other creators. That they would prompt thought from journalists and other communicators, throw down the gauntlet to image libraries, get more people to share ideas with a growing community and help viewers develop better mental models about AI. So, nearly 2 years in, how is it going?
On the one hand, we have been overwhelmed by the response. The images, most of which are donated and all of which are by insightful and talented artists, have clearly helped a wide range of people and organisations communicate in ways that better represent their message and provide more interesting and engaging moments with audiences. They also provided creative provocations or learning opportunities, helped to differentiate users from the boring blue brains and white robots, and enabled users to avoid fostering misunderstandings about AI.
Images have been downloaded from the library across the world; they have been used in news media, business and academic presentations, blogs, websites, event banners, brochures, and reports; and they have been viewed by millions of people. We have been pleased to see them bring life to stories in publications such as the TIME, Washington Post, and the Guardian, but also to statements from influential AI related organisations and in academia and on courses where they are reaching the next generations.
We have seen new images influenced by some of the approaches and learned from the novel interpretations and adaptations people have made. We’ve had feedback and insights from users and stakeholders via a research project which resulted in a Guide to help make the case for better images.
However, the job is far from over. New text-to-image generators trained on the existing tropes are being used to illustrate AI and, unsurprisingly, are replicating them and feeding back anthropomorphic representations into a seemingly never-ending production line of scary robots.
As more parts of the internet, more industries and more parts of society become occupied with AI for the first time, text-to-image tools are bringing new users to the still limited range of stock images labelled “AI.” The boom in generative AI and the increase in coverage given to narratives around existential risk and super intelligent AGI has breathed new life into the sci-fi narratives which replace more accurate and insightful discussions about AI.
While we have received some funding to create new images (more about that soon!), our core operations and project remain unfunded, and, indeed, we have lost many funding applications despite such demonstrable impact. This means that non-profit volunteer organisation We and AI, who manage the collaboration, and coordinate the project and site, also took on the running costs, despite also not being funded to do so. It takes time to explore and produce impactful and meaningful visual representations of complex topics; to consult with and for a wide range of image users, volunteers, creatives, advocates, and advisors across the world; to communicate and to support and answer queries about the project; to build new proposals and potential partnerships; to evaluate, prepare, upload images and liaise with artists. It takes money to host and maintain the website, and build new functionality in advance of making it more scalable.
As a result, we have had a backlog of images and articles and have not yet launched some upgrades to the site that were made to enable the library to grow. This has been frustrating, as we know that many users have used all the existing images and are keen to have a wider selection to use. And there is a greater need than ever for more pictures related to AI!
It’s therefore with great joy that we can announce that, with support from volunteers at We and AI, we have finally been able to get together and process all of these images, and upload one a day for the next 30 days!
We also have some new blog articles written to help share experiences and insight into visual communication of AI from a range of We and AI community members, and a couple of new supporter announcements.
We will share the stories, projects and motivations behind all of these images over the month of November, as we often find that these discussions prompt important conversations about AI and our relationship with it. We hope you will enjoy discovering a new creative interpretation every day, and will be able to use and share them as we double the size of the library in one month. Check out the first one today.
We are extremely grateful to all the artists and everybody involved in the creation of the images we host.