Frequently Asked Questions

Below are common questions people ask about the less technical aspects of Artificial Intelligence.

1. What is AI and how is it different?
1a. AI, or Artificial Intelligence, refers to the capability of machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving, perception, and language processing. Traditional computer programs follow predefined rules but AI systems can make decisions based on patterns and insights derived from the large volume of data they have been trained on.

1b. AI has an ability to mimic human-like cognitive functions and continuously improve its performance through experience and exposure to more data. Unlike traditional software, we cannot easily look at an AI's decision making and see how it made any particular decision.

2. Is the emergence of AI dangerous?
2a. There are potential dangers but also tremendous potential benefits if AI is developed and used responsibly. One major concern is the existential risk - the hypothetical possibility that a superintelligent AI system could become uncontrollable and pose an existential threat to humanity. Views on this vary widely.

2b. More immediate risks include AI being used in harmful ways, such as autonomous weapons, surveillance overreach, cyber attacks, or perpetuating biases and discrimination if the training data is flawed. There are also concerns about AI automation displacing human jobs.

3. So what has AI got to do with somebody like me?
3a. Even if you choose not to interact with AI directly, it is increasingly shaping many modern experiences and services we rely on as consumers and citizens.

3b. If, on the other hand, you engage with AI then it is like having 'cleverness on tap'. That is, it is like having a talented friend who is academic and practical and artistic and always available for you to talk to. Furthermore this friend will produce fantastic art for you, answer difficult questions, write articles and email responses and generally be pretty useful.

3c. That might give you some advantages in life against the people without such a friend!

4. How do I get started with AI?
4a. There are already many AI tools available to the public and many more to come. You can certainly use many of them without charge. Several FREE AI tools are described elsewhere on this website. Generally companies only charge for the very latest versions but then make the slightly older version available free of charge.

4b. You will also find free AI tools associated with the Search Engines that you may have used in the past. This may not give you the best experience however as Search Engine companies are still trying to get you to click on a link for which they get paid. The best AI tools simply give you a solution to the problem your question was about.

4c. We don't list particular AI tools in these FAQs because everything is changing very rapidly. If you look into the notes for the AI training course in the rest of this website however you will find lots of suggestions. Best of all, attend one of the 'face to face' training sessions where you can get support in starting.

5. If I create an image using AI, is copyright a problem?
5a. Although AI can mimic many artist styles it does so not by copying and storing images but by absorbing the styles that that artist has used. That said, some AI tools are so good at what they do that even a living artist might be shocked by how well their style is copied in some entirely new AI composition.

5b. Lots of the law in this area is untested as yet, and it will vary according to the country you are in.

5c. If you create images for your own use then it is extremely unlikely there are any copyright issues to worry about. If somebody then copies your AI generated images, of course, it may now be difficult for you to challenge them in law should you be tempted to do so.

5d. If you plan to sell the images, perhaps as a greetings card for example, then some caution is advised. It would be simply bad manners anyway to ask an AI to generate images that copy a living artist and then try to sell them. Some AI tools even have inbuilt controls to prevent you doing this.

5e. If you generate AI art in a new style, or in a broad category of art, then you should have no problem. Of course there is strong competition now that everyone else too has access to these AI tools.

6. Is it immoral to use AI art tools?
6.1 There was a very animated debate when AI Art tools first emerged. Were they 'stealing' art without paying for it. What is more, what about the artists who had trained for years only to find that their services would not now be required? Though that debate continues, in practice 'AI Art' is already built into nearly every software tool that might possibly use it.

6.2 The first AI Art was often referred to as 'text to image' which meant that the user entered a text prompt and got an image in return. In 2024 there are now powerful 'text to video' tools which produce excellent results. Soon there will be 'text to feature film' AI tools where you describe a plot outline and the AI generates a full theater length movie complete with richly drawn characters, drama and emotion.

7. Can I trust AI conversation tools like ChatGPT?
7.1 Not yet, and perhaps never. AI systems at the moment sometimes hallucinate and give wrong answers or completely imaginary ones. They even sometimes insist on a wrong answer even when they also present clear evidence alongside it of the correct answer. In short, they act in a very similar way to people.

7.2 As when you ask a question of a human, you should double check your answer if the result is of importance.

7.3 Nevertheless AI conversation tools (like Claude or ChatGPT) are extremely powerful. Each passing month the best ones get more so. This area of unreliability should not stop you using them.

8. What are these 'Neural Nets' everybody keeps mentioning?
8.1 This is such a good question that there is a whole page on this site with further reading suggested at the end. To use AI you really do not need to know anything about neural networks yet they are fascinating if you have the time and energy!

8.2 Link: What is a Neural Network?

9. At a simple level, how do AI ART tools produce art?
9.1 Although an AI art tool has probably seen hundreds of millions of artistic images it does not store them. It is natural to think that maybe an AI Art tool is like a big database of art. This is not true however. AI Art tools are, in terms of storage size, really quite small. They could not store internally even a small fraction of the art they nevertheless replicate in many ways and go beyond. Think of them as being nearer to a very talented art student who has a perfect memory for styles and methods and has visited every art gallery in the world.

To understand more it would be worth first reading the page on 'Neural Networks' linked immediately above, then the link below which is more specific about 'Diffusion'.

9.2 Link: What is the 'Diffusion Method' of producing AI images?