shutterstock ai is already live

The online creative platform Shutterstock has inked a new deal with OpenAI – the creators of ChatGPT and Dall-E 2 – to use its technology to generate images for users based on their searches and text prompts.

The partnership was announced by Shutterstock yesterday as part of an ongoing collaboration with OpenAI that dates back to October last year when the firm opened up its massive library to the AI company to allow it to feed its machine learning models.

This new product, named Shutterstock AI, will be available in 20 different languages and its goal is to make Shutterstock the “one-stop-shop” for customers’ creative needs.

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The integration of ChatGPT and Dall-E 2 with Shutterstock will allow customers to create their own images by providing instructions to the system that describes exactly what they are looking for.

“Our easy-to-use generative platform will transform the way people tell their stories — you no longer have to be a design expert or have access to a creative team to create exceptional work”, commented Paul Hennessy, the Chief Executive Officer of Shutterstock.

I Tested the Feature and It Wasn’t What I Expected

The feature is already live and I gave it a try to see how useful it would be to generate images for an article such as this. After feeding the AI tool with two or three very specific and not overly sophisticated text prompts, the results were not the ones I expected.

The price of the images if I opted to pay for only a handful of them was over $9 per photo. Based on the results I got, I wouldn’t be willing to pay that much for images of such poor quality.

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However, users who sign up for a monthly subscription may pay less than $3 per image. Perhaps a more suitable figure if the goal is to generate visual content for an extensive number of blog posts, web pages, or even an eBook.

The images produced by the AI were often blurry and looked more like paintings than actual pictures – which is what I was looking for. Even though the system allows the user to provide some detailed instructions in regards to the elements and style of the image, the end result was not exactly what I was expecting.

In any case, even though this was not necessarily the level of quality that one would expect from a solution developed by a highly sophisticated company like Shutterstock, it is a nice first step in the path to embracing what could be an industry-disrupting technology.

Should Artists Be Concerned About Shutterstock’s Decision to Embrace AI?

The question at this point is what will happen to the thousands of artists that have supported the platform since it was created by providing it with creative materials to be commercialized to its customers.

Shutterstock stated that artists whose content is used by the AI tool will be compensated. However, the exact details of how much they will earn if their images are fed to the generative AI solution were not disclosed.

For now, artists should not be that scared of what AI tools like this can do to their jobs as a lot of fine-tuning seems to be needed to get the software to the point that it can produce high-quality photographs such as those composed and taken by human professionals.

Unlike Getty Images, which opted to sue another AI company for using its image repository without permission and banned AI-generated images from its platform, Shutterstock is embracing the tectonic changes that the tech world appears to be experiencing rather than clinging to what could eventually turn into an outdated business model.

Only time will tell if this was the right call, especially if artists are eventually hurt by the use of AI for generating the majority of the images that are commercialized within the platform.

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