DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s image generation AI system, is finally available as an API, meaning developers can build the system into their apps, websites, and services. In a blog post today, OpenAI announced that any developer can start harnessing the power of DALL-E 2 – now used by more than three million people to create more than four million images per day – once they create an OpenAI API account as part of the public beta.
DALL-E 2 API pricing varies by resolution. For 1024×1024 images, the cost is $0.02 per image; 512×512 images are $0.018 per image; and 256×256 images are $0.016 per image. Volume discounts are available to companies working with the OpenAI enterprise team.
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As with DALL-E 2 beta, the API will allow users to create new images from text prompts (eg “fluffy bunny hopping across a field of flowers”) or edit existing images. Microsoft, a close OpenAI partner, uses it in Bing and Microsoft Edge with its Image Creator tool, which allows users to create images if web results don’t return what they’re looking for. Fashion design app CALA uses the DALL-E 2 API as a tool to allow customers to refine design ideas from textual descriptions or images, while photography startup Mixtiles brings it to its users’ artwork creation process.
The launch of the API doesn’t change much in terms of policy, which is likely to disappoint those who worry that generative AI systems like DALL-E 2 are being released without sufficient consideration of the ethical and legal issues they pose. As before, users are bound by OpenAI’s terms of service, which prohibit using DALL-E 2 to generate overtly violent, sexual, or hateful content. OpenAI also continues to block users from uploading images of people without their consent or images they don’t have rights to, using a combination of automated and human monitoring systems to enforce this.
One minor modification is that images generated using the API will not need to include a watermark. OpenAI introduced watermarking during the DALL-E 2 beta as a way to indicate which images came from the system, but decided to make it optional with API launch.
“We encourage developers to disclose that the images are AI-generated, but do not require them to contain a DALL-E 2 signature,” Luke Miller, a product manager at OpenAI who oversees DALL-E 2 development, told TechCrunch via email.
OpenAI also uses prompt and image level filters on DALL-E 2, although the filters some customers have complained about are overzealous and imprecise. And the company has focused some of its research efforts on diversifying the types of images DALL-E 2 generates to combat biases that text-to-image AI systems fall victim to (eg, generating mostly white images). men when prompted by the text as “examples of CEOs”).
But these moves have not appeased every critic. In August, Getty Images banned the uploading and sale of illustrations created with DALL-E 2 and other similar tools, following similar decisions by sites including Newgrounds, PurplePort and FurAffinity. Getty Images CEO Craig Peters told The Verge that the ban was prompted by concerns about “unaddressed right issues” because the training datasets for systems like DALL-E 2 contain copyrighted images downloaded from the web.
Many critics say it’s not just trademark infringement that concerns them about DALL-E 2. The system threatens the livelihoods of artists whose styles can now be replicated with a few strings of text, they say, including artists who didn’t consent. for their work to be used to train DALL-E 2. (To be fair to OpenAI, the company has licensed some of the images in the DALL-E 2 training dataset, which is more than can be said for some of its competitors.)
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In an attempt to find a middle ground, Shutterstock competitor Getty Images recently announced that it will start using DALL-E 2 to create content, but will also launch a “contributor fund” to compensate creators when the company sells work on training text-based AI systems -to-image. . It also bans artificial intelligence uploaded by third parties to minimize the potential for copyrighted work to enter the platform.
Technologists Mat Dryhurst and Holly Herndon are leading an effort called Source+ to allow people to ban the use of their work or likeness for AI training purposes. But it’s voluntary. OpenAI has not said whether it will participate — or indeed whether it will ever implement a self-service tool that allows rights holders to exclude their work from training or content creation.
In the interview, Miller revealed few details about the new mitigations, other than that OpenAI is improving its techniques to prevent the system from generating biased, toxic and otherwise offensive content that customers might find objectionable. He described the API’s open beta as an “iterative” process that will involve working with “users and artists” over the next few months as OpenAI scales the infrastructure powering DALL-E 2.
Of course, if the DALL-E 2 beta is any indication, the API program will evolve over time. OpenAI early disabled the ability to edit people’s faces with DALL-E 2, but later enabled the ability after improving its security system.
“We’ve done a lot of work on this page – both through the images you upload and the prompts you submit – to bring it in line with our content policies and we’ve done various mitigations at the prompt level and at the image level to make sure it’s in compliance with our content policies. So, for example, if someone uploaded an image that contained symbols of hate or gore — like very, very, very violent content — it would be rejected,” Miller said. “We’re always thinking about how we can improve the system.”
But while OpenAI seems keen to avoid the controversy surrounding Stable Diffusion, the open source equivalent of DALL-E 2 used to create porn, gore and celebrity deepfakes, it leaves it up to API users to choose exactly how and where deploy its technologies. Some, like Microsoft, will no doubt take a deliberate approach and slowly roll out products with DALL-E 2 to gather feedback. Others dive in headfirst and embrace both the technology and the ethical dilemmas that come with it.
If one thing’s for sure, it’s that there is pent-up demand for generative AI—consequences be damned. Even before the API was officially available, developers published solutions to integrate DALL-E 2 into applications, services, websites, and even video games. With the public beta launch, backed by OpenAI’s tremendous marketing potential, synthetic images are poised to truly enter the mainstream.