Images and content © 2022, 2023 by Robb Schmidt


A Prompt is Forever...

A popular prompt can actually live longer than we do!

So, while drinking my coffee and doing my rounds this morning, I once again came across an image made with one of my older prompts. I shouldn't have been surprised, as this can happen to me several times each week, but I was. Here's the reason why...

I haven't made a prompt public at DDG for 4 months now. Not since I started publishing my worX at Deep Dreams via the Deep Style option, which doesn't display them. This old prompt of mine that I saw being reused was likely to have been written even months before I started doing this!

It was an eXact copy of my prompt, word for word, and even the capital "X" I had placed in the word 'eXtreme' still remained. Same with the modifiers, eXactly as I used them, and even my negative prompts were there, eXactly as I had written them.

So how is my old prompt still popping up, word for word, when I wrote it over 6 months ago?

Well, obviously at the time, at least one person tried it out and published the image they made from it. Then other people saw the newly created image and tried it, and it happened again and again and again, as even more folks did the same thing. Last time I checked, this morning's image's TRY IT button had been used another 9 times. So, it's likely my prompt, (or at least edited versions of it), will live on for YEARS to come, if not into A.I. art eternity!

Of course I thought the image created with my prompt looked fantastic. It looked just like something that I would create, and when you actually stop to think about it, I DID CREATE IT! Using my prompt eXactly as it was written is, in a strange sort of digital way, copying MY work.

Don't worry, I totally see the irony in that statement. Here traditional artists are freaking out about their artwork and styles being stolen by A.I. software and the people who use it, and I, the lowly prompt writer, am complaining about MY work being stolen!

Actually, I'm not really complaining at all, I'm just a little surprised, and my work wasn't stolen, I placed it there for anyone to use.

But seeing my eXact prompt after all these months, with nothing at all changed in it, made me wonder just how long prompts can actually 'live' for? From my eXperience of over 25 years on the web, I'm guessing they're just like anything else that's published on it. Once they're there, they're there forever.

Once upon a time, I was delighted to see my prompts used by others. It was sort of an honor & privilege to see that what I wrote had been liked so much by someone, they actually decided to reuse it. On occasion, my prompts would even go sort of 'viral' at DDG, and I'd see them used over and over again by many different people over a couple of weeks. I was delighted!

But this morning when I saw this foriegn "X" image, I found myself a little irritated to see something that looked like I had made it. This got me to thinking about prompts and AI 'artwork' in general.

How can an artist ever develop their own 'style and look' with AI if their original prompts are out there for anyone to use? I think the answer is obvious, they can't.

Once a prompt is published publicly, it becomes part of the public domain, and any originality that may have been found in the artwork that was made from it will quickly be washed away. Others will use the prompt and make their own copies from it. Different than the original, but in the same style as it was.

The knowledge of who wrote the prompt is quickly forgotten. Even though the prompt lives on, the credit to the person who wrote it does not. 

I continuously see artists that create 'wow images' from what I assume is their original prompt. I assume that because the images are like nothing I've ever seen before, and I've seen a lot of images.

These artists seem to strive for originality, to be different in some way, unique, and what true artist wouldn't do that? But sure enough, for the next few days afterward, maybe even weeks or months afterward, I'll see the copies from their prompt popping up all over DDG. Once this starts to happen, the original 'wow image' isn't so 'wow' anymore, because we'll probably see many more versions come from the prompt forever more!

These days when I see this happen, it sort of saddens me. All the hard work, the style, the originality, it has been lost for the artist. Even though the prompt lives on in the public domain into eternity, the artist who wrote the prompt does not.

The person who deserves the credit doesn't get it. The prompt gets all the credit instead, as if it somehow wrote itself. Or the software gets the credit, like it is responsible for all the magic words that make the pretty pictures.

This is all just my opinion, of course. I do tend to ramble on in the morning. Maybe I even drank one too many cups of coffee today.

But as artists who create with A.I., I think the words I typed above are certainly some important food for thought.

I didn't stop publishing my own prompts on purpose. It was a consequence of me changing how I publish my pictures at DDG, using Deep Style, which was done for unrelated reasons. But now, after all this time of not publishing them and after thinking about it, I am thrilled to finally be in full control of my own prompts.

I think that if you *really* want to make original pictures while creating with A.I. - artwork that is actually *yours* and no one else's, you simply can't share your prompts. Once you do, your work is no longer yours, and becomes the property of everyone and anyone.

Any originality, any uniqueness or personal style, it's been lost. It's gone because it was shared with the masses, who are sure to abuse it into eternity.

Keep on creating though, the pictures really are very 'pretty'!   ; )


Sept. 21st, 2023