ARTificial Intelligence: Identifying Generative AI’s Impact on Professional Artists / Virtual Reality in Relation to Psychological Fears: Game Design Study

Huang, Isabella, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Wylie, Caitlin, University of Virginia
Tian, Yuan, University of Virginia

“Art is dead [...] AI won. Humans lost.” These were the words said by Jason Allen, a man who won a statewide art competition using a piece made from Midjourney, a text-to-image generative artificial intelligence (AI) (Roose, 2022). The use of generative AI may be helpful for artists in terms of creating inspiration for artworks, but its usage is currently being exploited by people who do not make art as a primary living, as well as corporations who are using generated art for their businesses. This prevalence of AI art is detrimental to the artists who depend on authentically creating art for a living. I will be using Mediation Theory to analyze this arising societal phenomenon, which, as outlined by philosopher Peter-Paul Verbeek, offers a framework to analyze technology’s role in human existence by approaching it as mediators of human-world relations, rather than material objects (2015). I wish to understand on what fronts AI has impacted the artist community by reviewing literature on both the general public and artists’ perceptions of AI, and I explore possible methods of mitigating its negative impacts on artists. By analyzing how the use of generative AIs impacted artists’ social relationships with the world, I hope to gain some insight on how artists could coexist with AI art in the future, and ways in which AIs could be used as a mediator as defined by this theory to foster a more positive relationship between artists of all different mediums and the larger society.
With the rise in popularity of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies in recent years, VR headsets have become a popular commodity in households for entertainment purposes. However, because of the newness of these gadgets, there are currently little content warnings being advertised to potential users about how the realness of these VR applications can induce feelings of discomfort or psychological phobias in users. In this study, conducted under faculty, PhD, and undergraduate students from the UVA Department of Computer Science and Department of Psychology, I helped investigate and analyze how potentially fear-inducing scenarios in VR game scenes affect users. We are conducting this study over the course of several semesters, and as of writing this report we have currently collected data with over 100 participants of their reactions during a height-related VR game scene. From the results of this study, we hope to help VR game engineers develop more specific and unified guidelines of proper content warnings to users with potential fears.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
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