It was the most contentious topic in the world of art and design in 2022, and it seems AI is set to enjoy the same dubious honour this year. From the copyright-related ethics of text-to-image generators to claims that the tech is inherently prejudiced, AI is surrounded by controversy. Enter: AI generated fonts.
An AI scientist has shared what they claim to be a "huge upgrade" for font design. Word-As-Image is an AI-powered Stable Diffusion tool designed to present a visualisation of the meaning of the word, while also preserving its readability. But judging by the response on Twitter, you shouldn't abandon our list of the best free fonts just yet.
Font design is about to get a huge upgrade. Traditionally, given the same font, the letter ‘A’ looks identical everywhere.How about a smart & magical font that draws ‘A’ differently based on the semantic meaning of the word? Smells like Stable Diffusion?Deep dive with me: 🧵 pic.twitter.com/e3RXBQ8ZrlMarch 6, 2023
Jim Fan, a NVIDIA AI scientist, shared a link to a paper presenting Word-As-Image. Fan describes the technique as "pretty sophisticated," with a "differentiable rasterizer" (we've all got one of those, right?) that allows gradient to propagate from the rendered pixels back to the original shape parameters. In other words, it turns letters into the object the word is describing without abandoning the shape of the letter.
But since typography design is such a complex and creative art form, the concept isn't going down a storm with designers on Twitter. Many have critiqued the legibility and accessibility of the text, while others simply can't work out what problem the tech is attempting to solve.
The idea that text with letters that look vaguely like the Literal Subject of a word is better than a custom-made logo that conveys the TONE and MOOD and ESSENCE of a work is an ACTUAL TRAVESTY https://t.co/6PH2TJs5Bs pic.twitter.com/TTY9XVxnIjMarch 9, 2023
Is this nonsense the reason I can't sleep? Probably not, but just in case, here goes.For more people than probably realize it, the predictability of print is why they can read at all. https://t.co/EBf9jBLBhQMarch 10, 2023
I cant stop thinking about this. Its such a perfect example of how the people behind these programs, despite their intentions, are completely oblivious to the actual needs of artists and designers. https://t.co/W0dhr8Li1tMarch 10, 2023
Indeed, perhaps more than most 'tech vs art' questions in the realm of AI, this one seems to strike at the centre of the debate. It's certainly impressive to see how the tool can turn letters into certain objects whilst (vaguely) retaining their original form, as many have pointed out, the whole thing seems to lack a basic level of artistry.
From AI art scooping first prize in an art competition to Getty banning AI-generated images from its library over copyright concerns and people using the tools to copy specific artists' styles, AI art is causing all manner of disturbance online. Indeed, even Adobe recently offered a message for creatives worried about the rise of AI art.