AI images take social media by storm, there may be more to it than meets the eye

BLOOMINGTON — Leito Navarrete has spent his whole life sharpening his craft.

“Fragmentation, collage, composition. I take a lot of inspiration from street art and graffiti,” Navarrete said.

But the Indiana University Graduate Student is concerned about the future of his industry.

“Almost every other image, or at least one in five images, scrolling down on Instagram is a Lensa portrait,” Navarette said.

On Thursday, Lensa AI is the most popular app in the U.S. on Apple’s App Store.

The app, produced by Prisma Labs, Inc., uses an open-source neural network model called Stable Diffusion to create computer-generated images.

Some like Navarrete argue that model takes artists’ material without their consent in the process.

“The most problematic part about this technology, aside from copyright and theft, is making a profit off of this kind of software,” he said.

The app asks you to upload 10 to 20 selfies and then pay a fee of $7.99 to $15.99, depending on the number of variations and styles you’d like.

When it’s done, you’re left with dozens, even hundreds of “magic avatars”.

Senior Editor of Security at Wired Andrew Couts says the app may pose cyber security risks.

“The main thing I would be concerned about is the behavioral analytics that they’re collecting. if I were going to use the app, I would make sure to turn on as restrictive privacy settings as possible,” Couts said.

According to the app, photos are immediately deleted from its servers after the Avatars are ready.

Regardless, Couts says to be cautious.

“You can change your privacy settings on your phone to make sure that the app isn’t collecting as much data as it seems to be able to. And you can make sure that you’re not sharing images that contain anything more private than just your face,” Couts said.

As for Navarrete, he hopes consumers will support local artists as much as these apps.

“I think it will become more challenging, even more so than it already is, to make a living as a painter and as an artist. To justify your field of work, expertise and what you can bring to the table,” Navarette said.

WRTV emailed Prisma Labs and a spokesperson directed us to a FAQ with detailed information on the app.