It has come to our attention that the British Science Fiction Association’s Award suggestion document has become the subject of discussion in relation to the BSFA’s policy on the use of ‘AI’ in the creation of artistic works.
In the past, the BSFA has awarded the Best Artwork prize to many innovative works created in a variety of different forms. The method of creating that artwork has varied drastically and we hope, continues to vary, as our creative community explores different artistic crafts. It is worth taking a look at clause 3 in the BSFA’s Memorandum here:
During October 2023, there was some discussion on social media about the BSFA’s guidance information in relation to the BSFA Awards. Individuals accessed the crowdsourced list of works published in 2023 (not the nominations list) and took issue with some of the advice about how to consider nominating artwork for this category.
In response to some queries, the BSFA issued a holding statement and undertook a review on our approach to the Art Award and to consider what would be permissible as a nomination. The previous statement also explains the association’s award process.
The following is our statement after discussions and due consideration has taken place.
The BSFA will take into account the use of generative ‘AI’ in art. This will require additional engagement between the awards team (please note these are all volunteers) and the nominated works (see below). This engagement will happen at the long list nomination stage, before the long list is released.
There’s a problem with definitions, and we’d like to note that a lot of the content being labelled as ‘AI’ may not actually be ‘AI’. Across the years, artists use a range of evolving techniques to generate art, and this may involve some level of technology - only recently has the focus been on generative AI, in particular, natural language processing tools driven by AI technology, including ChatGPT. We acknowledge that not all art created using some measure of technology falls in this category’. Procedural generation, inference engines, or the AARON system developed by Harold Cohen, are examples that utilise similar or comparative systems to what is being termed as ‘AI’.
How We Will Filter Award Entries
We have now added a column in the list of works published for a nominator to indicate whether the creation of the art involved the use of ‘AI’. We will take this into account, and the awards administrator may consult with publishers or nominators to determine the particular use. Where the nominator leaves the column blank, it may affect the work’s eligibility.
The awards administrator will have the final say on each work.
The BSFA does not condone the use of generative ‘AI’ that has been trained on other artists’ work without permission or compensation. The BSFA will not accept the nominations of art produced by software that has scraped creators' work, without consent, to compile training data for generative AI models. In other words, it is unlikely that content from Midjourney, ChatGPT, etc. is eligible.
Nominated artists who have used AI will be required to explain the process of its use. This must occur in a defined time period - the awards administrator will contact the relevant party and request a response within three weeks from the time of contacted.. Failure to be transparent or meet those deadlines will result in the exclusion of those works from consideration for the BSFA awards. Deliberately obscuring the use of AI in the generation of content will also be grounds for exclusion or disqualification, if this comes to light, even after an award has been conferred.
What type of computerised works might be acceptable?
As an example only, works that have been generated by AI models trained by the artist, where the artist has created all the content in the training data themselves, etc., are an example of possible acceptable use. The Awards Administrator will consider involved creative methods on a case by case basis, and factors such as prior publication and exhibition will be relevant. Members will, of course, be able make their own judgments when voting for shortlists and voting in the final ballot.
Given the evolving nature of technology, the BSFA does not find it appropriate at this time to prescribe specific processes or techniques of acceptable use.
What happens next?
We at the BSFA note that the conversation regarding generative ‘AI’ and software in this category is only just beginning. The 2024 AGM will have a discussion point on the agenda to consider the experiences of this year and to think about our policy going forwards.
Additionally, should any member wish to express their views on this topic, the awards team will be available to discuss the matter. Please email: Chair@bsfa.co.uk
I hope this clarifies matters for anyone who is concerned about this.
Doctor Allen Stroud - BSFA Chair.