We created more AI images than 150 years of photographs
A recent survey has shown that over 15 billion AI images have been generated in just one year. That’s more than the number of photographs taken in the first 150 years of photographic history. Yes, you read that correctly. And it’s not that surprising when you think about it.
Over the past year, AI-driven artistic communities have taken the Internet by storm. From Reddit to Twitter to Discord, a multitude of online hubs have emerged, serving as incubators for thousands of AI ‘artists’ honing their craft through precise prompts and sharing their creations with the world.
The sheer volume of content generated during this period defies easy quantification, but it’s nothing short of staggering. This study of AI-generated image statistics reveals a seismic shift in the art world, raising questions about creativity, technology, and the future of visual expression.
One of the most astonishing revelations, says Everypixel in the report, is the sheer number of images produced using text-to-image algorithms within just a single year. “To put this in perspective,” the report says, “it took photographers 150 years, from the first photograph taken in 1826 until 1975, to reach the 15 billion mark.” This rapid expansion really is mind-boggling.
Key players in this arena include DALLE-2, an image-generation model developed by OpenAI. Since its limited release in April 2022, DALLE-2 has been responsible for an average daily output of a staggering 34 million images. Adobe has also made waves with its groundbreaking suite of AI algorithms known as Adobe Firefly, seamlessly integrated into Adobe Photoshop. Remarkably, within a mere three months of its launch, Firefly facilitated the creation of an astounding 1 billion images, showcasing the incredible potential of AI-powered artistic tools.
Midjourney, a prominent generative AI model that went live in July 2022, is a major contributor to this digital renaissance. Boasting a robust user base of 15 million registered users and 1.5-2.5 million active members, Midjourney’s Discord channel alone witnesses a continuous stream of image generation – with estimates suggesting up to 2.5 million images produced daily. This equates to a total of around 964 million images since its inception.
Another noteworthy contender is Stable Diffusion, a text-to-image model introduced by Stability AI in August 2022. This open-source platform has seen remarkable traction, attracting over 10 million users across various channels. Conservative calculations indicate that users generate approximately 2 million images daily through Stable Diffusion’s official avenues. However, the true scale of its impact remains elusive, as the model’s open-source nature has led to the creation of numerous derivative platforms, making accurate statistics difficult.
Intriguingly, the combined efforts of these AI-driven pioneers have culminated in the generation of more than 11 billion images across popular sites such as GitHub, HuggingFace, and Civitai. When accounting for other influential models like Runway and the official channels of Stability AI, the cumulative count of images created using Stable Diffusion technology swells to an impressive 12.590 billion, comprising 80% of all AI-generated images.
To put these 15 billion images into context, it dwarfs the entirety of Shutterstock’s huge library and would make up one-third of all images ever uploaded to Instagram.
When I think back to a year ago, when Midjourney launched in June 2022, it seems truly remarkable how quickly the output quality has changed. It is now nearly impossible to distinguish between a photo and an AI-generated image (as this quiz shows).
Imagine where we will be in another year. This is what is so exciting and terrifying about AI. It is transforming the creative industries before our very eyes, and none of us knows where it will take us. All we can do is buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Alex Baker is a portrait and lifestyle driven photographer based in Valencia, Spain. She works on a range of projects from commercial to fine art and has had work featured in publications such as The Daily Mail, Conde Nast Traveller and El Mundo, and has exhibited work across Europe