AI and the Controversy Surrounding Disney’s Loki Poster

Disney’s promotional poster for the second season of Loki on Disney Plus has ruffled feathers in the design community. The uproar centers around the suspected use of an AI-generated stock image in the backdrop.

The controversy ignited when illustrator Katria Raden pinpointed an image of a spiraling clock on the poster, suggesting it bore signs typical of generative AI outputs – “randomly turning into meaningless squiggles.” Such artifacts are often left behind by AI image generators.

Adding fuel to the fire, some online sleuths drew parallels between the Loki artwork and a stock image available on Shutterstock, titled “Surreal Infinity Time Spiral Space Antique.” Notably, the stock image lacked any metadata to determine its creation process. Yet, when subjected to several AI image checkers, it was flagged as AI-generated.

Shutterstock’s own rules prohibit AI-generated content unless it originates from their in-house AI-image generator tool. This ensures the platform can authenticate the IP ownership of all content. Though Shutterstock remained mum when probed about the image in question, the platform is known to label its AI-generated imagery explicitly and assert that it’s trained on their stock library.

For many artists, like Raden, the use of AI-generated imagery in stock platforms is problematic. Such artists have relied on stock site licensing for income. Raden opined that replacing human creativity with AI isn’t more ethical than “replacing Disney’s own employees.”

Shutterstock, while not labeling the time-spiral image as AI-generated, flagged it as a “top choice,” implying high demand. Other uploads from the same contributor, Svarun, also seem to be AI-driven.

Notably, tech giants Adobe and Getty are endorsing AI-generated content for commercial use, though questions linger about the effectiveness of their content moderation strategies.

Rumors are rife about Disney’s use of generative AI for other aspects of the Loki poster, particularly the miniature characters surrounding Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Disney, however, remains silent on both the usage of AI in the promotional art and the licensing of the contentious Shutterstock image.

While Shutterstock didn’t label the clock image as AI-generated, there’s a possibility Disney might be unaware of its AI origins. However, the noticeable errors in the image indicate oversight in Disney’s design and editing processes.

The surge of AI tools in the creative space, such as Adobe Firefly, is undeniable. These tools, marketed to those with limited design know-how, provide an affordable, rapid alternative to hiring professional designers. With AI-generated stock images also on the rise, it’s no wonder creative professionals are apprehensive about the trajectory of their craft.

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