Today, Sarah Andersen is 30 years old. And like any designer using the Internet, she has had her share of misadventures. At the end of 2016, she served as a target for users of a forum: her feminist message and the simplicity of the drawings made her, with hindsight, a designated victim.
And here is how his strips were hijacked, his character changed into a fierce racist, going as far as Holocaust denial, with the bonus of swastikas. Images proliferated, nearly impossible to remove.
Propaganda and counterfeiting
In the New York Timesthe designer recounts what has all the traits of identity theft : “The Alt-Right created a version “ghost” from me, who advocates neo-Nazi ideology. Sometimes readers come across it. I received outraged messages and was forced to contact my publisher to denounce this recovery.»
Then, a font was designed from his lettering: a disconcerting imitation, easy to use, which extended the racist parody of his creations. ” The spelling is something personal and intimate for me, an element that defines me as much as other specific traits, such as the color of my eyes or my name.“, she attests.
And now she discovers a drawing where only the text has been modified: the strip dates from 2017, and its style has evolved somewhat, but the resemblance is disturbing. With a message that serves the donald trump propaganda, while humiliating Hillary Clinton. But there again, she knew how to stay ahead and keep these haters at a distance.
“He is alive…alive!”
In October 2022, a new blow, more violent this time: via an artificial intelligence, an Internet user generates an automatic drawing. The line takes up that of the author, but behind the screen, there is neither a fan nor a malevolent fanatic, just a machine.
“I felt violated. The text and image generators offered by AI tools erase the inaccuracies that a human would introduce by reproducing his drawings. “Humans can’t help but bring their humanity into art. The latter is deeply personal and the AI had erased all humanity from it, reducing my life’s work to an algorithm.. »
As the machine learns and perfects, the distinction will fademore and more between the original and the copy. The collection of images – under right, goes without saying – abundantly shared on the internet simplifies the feeding of AIs. So their ability to reproduce even more, and better and better.
The question remains: to what drifts will the drawings lead? Deep fakes have been known to produce videos with one person’s face and another’s body — often to create pornography. American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been a victim of this, as have many celebrities. Women, mainly.
But the opportunities are many and the risks just as much. “I’ve experimented with several generators, and so far none have mimicked my style in a way that directly threatens my career.“, notes Sarah Andersen. For now anyway. Because AIs are improving, again and again. And the designer concludes:“I see a monster come to life.»
Photo credits: Daniel Mingook Kim/ Unsplash