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System Shock publisher says it used AI artwork to "start conversations"

"This was never about using AI to create artwork instead of using real people."

UPDATE 9pm UK: Developer Night Dive has told Eurogamer that the social media posts made on the official System Shock Twitter account were made by the game's publisher Prime Matter. "Nightdive Studios was not responsible," a spokesperson said.

We've updated our earlier story, below, to reflect this.

ORIGNAL STORY 11.45am UK: Prime Matter, the publisher behind the System Shock remake, recently boasted about using AI to create artwork of its game's own evil AI. And, well, things slightly backfired.

The publisher used AI software Midjourney to create a picture of Shodan, and then proceeded to share the image on its social media feeds.

"Look at you, hacker: a pathetic creature of meat and bone. Your body, weak, fragile. How can you challenge a perfect machine? Imagine, how would my immortal body look like? Designed by an immortal machine for an immortal machine," the publisher wrote, with the accompanying picture of System Shock's antagonist.

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Needless to say, this post sparked a fair amount of backlash, with replies such as "Pay an artist. I don't want to see slop made from a plagiarism machine" and "Please just put more love and effort into making the game good, rather than jumping into the 'automated plagiarism' trend" monopolising the thread.

Some have even suggested they are no longer going to order the game, based solely on this tweet. "Sorry, but we do NOT tolerate AI art," one user replied.

The overwhelmingly negative reaction has not been missed, and now the publisher has responded to the comments by stating it was simply hoping to "[start] the conversation".

"An AI using AI to imagine what AI would look like in a physical form; doesn't get more meta than that," Prime Matter wrote, resharing its original AI generated Shodan tweet.

"[Shodan] was one of the first examples of 'AI running amok' in video games (albeit a concept pioneered by HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey movie) and the potential of AI being smarter than humans is a concern felt by many," the publisher's statement continued.

Prime Matter referred back to the recent departure of AI's 'godfather' Geoffrey Hinton from Google (Hinton quit the company last week, and in doing so left a stark warning about the growing dangers from developments in the field of AI. "Right now, they're not more intelligent than us, as far as I can tell. But I think they soon may be," Hinton told the BBC).

The publisher went on to state it would continue to use AI for artwork in the future.

"We will use AI again to create other pieces (including artwork)," Prime Matter wrote. "We may well use AI in other areas too. But this will never be at the expense of using skilled people or their creative talents."

Some fans remain unconvinced by the publisher's arguments. "And just like that, all of my hopes for this remake have been quashed. Embarrassing," one fan replied, while another added: "There was never a conversation, there was only greed". Still, in fairness to the publisher, it certainly has got us talking).

For more on this subject, be sure to check out Chris Tapsell's recent feature all about the games industry's response to AI, which you can read by following this link.

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