We really don’t need AI-generated manga

By now, you’re probably as sick of hearing about AI as I am, but the tech sector simply cannot allow a dumb idea to die. In capitalism’s endless pursuit of perpetual growth, executives at several companies have discovered a new and exciting way to not pay their artists: don’t even hire them in the first place.

It looks like AI will soon have an electronic hand in making manga, which is the most dystopian thing I’ve ever heard of in my life. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. The entire idea can get in the bin.

Stop trying to make AI a thing – manga edition

AI writing is bad

As a writer, I’ve already seen stories of how AI like ChatGPT is going to take my jobs from me. These glorified chatbots have scoured every inch of the Internet and stolen every word written there, using it to create word salads that approximate human speech and text in its most basic form. They’re certainly not there yet, but the theory is that within a few years, these tools will be complex enough to create works of actual art. (Pish – Ed.)

Shonen Jump, the publishers of some of the most popular manga on the planet, have seen this trend and, predictably, seen a chance to make a quick buck by developing an AI tool that will produce titles and shorten dialogue to fit into speech bubbles. Though the scope of this initial plan is limited to editing existing text, I am continually frustrated by the constant misuse of something as innovative and powerful as Artificial Intelligence.

AI has the potential to change the world in the same way that the Internet did back in the late ’90s and early ’00s. (Not the last 20 years, though, those have suuuucked – Ed.) It should be used and developed in a thoughtful, controlled way so that it provides benefits to humanity. The dream of sci-fi fans around the world is to have AI that will do small jobs for us, freeing us up to do the things that feed our souls, like create art or stare lovingly at our favourite 2D men and women.

And yet, capitalism once again gets in the way. AI is being used as a way to squeeze as much profit out of an industry as possible. In this case, it is cutting out the work of editors and writers who often have to spend a lot of time adjusting dialogue to fit inside the speech bubbles on a page. Rather than pay them for that time, everything is fed into a machine and spit out in the most concise, predictable way because that’s all a machine can do.

I don’t think that AI has any place within the arts. Not because it can’t do it, but because it shouldn’t. AI should be used to make my life more efficient, to free up my time so that I can go and create art of my own, or enjoy that which others have made. It should be taking on the mindless drudgery of my taxes or picking plastic out of the ocean, not helping a massive corporation cut the wages of already poorly paid and overworked artists and editors.

Even if these chatbots didn’t learn everything they know by stealing from actual artists, and even if they could, somehow, write at the same level as a human that has spent their lifetime in pursuit of the perfect word or phrase, I would still say that using AI to create manga is a dumb idea. Not only is it a misuse of a potentially powerful tool, but it is criminally unnecessary. I have access to more manga than I could ever read in a single lifetime – why would I waste my time reading something spit out by a machine?

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