Wacom AI-generated New Year promotion 'devalues' own customers

Occurred: January 2024

Japanese tablet manufacturer Wacom was discovered covertly using AI-generated images in its new year marketing, prompting complaints from artists and customers.

Wacom's apparent use of AI to generate illustrations of Chinese dragons to welcome in the Chinese Year of the Dragon prompted revulsion and despair from artists. One artist, Megan Ruiz, pointed out that the quality of the images was sub-par, with one sporting a tail that failed to attach to its body, another with strange-looking teeth. 

Wacom later deleted the artwork and claimed it was not its 'intent' to use AI-generated images and that it had purchased the images 'through a third-party vendor where it was indicated that they were not AI generated.' 

Artists took particular exception to Wacom's use of AI because the company's products, many of which are premium-priced, are primarily used by designers and other creatives, leading some to say they were devaluing the work of their own customers. Some customers said they would not buy its products again.

Operator: Wacom customers
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Generate images
Technology: Text-to-image; Generative adversarial network (GAN); Neural network; Deep learning; Machine learning
Issue: Employment; Ethics/values; Reputational damage
Transparency: Governance

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