A lot of people have an opinion about AI and Art. Me too.
Here’s my unpopular opinion, which has stayed unaltered from when I first started hearing and seeing examples of AI and art. In short, I believe anything that can be automated should be. It doesn’t mean artists need to stop creating; artists will always create no matter what gets automated. If there’s something to be said, an artist will find a way.
In general I thought creativity would be one of the last bastions for AI to crack. Instead, people and AI started with the creative stuff like art, music, video and animation instead of helping us with boring stuff like taxes, lol. I’m as surprised as I am impressed.
From the start I’ve thought it’d be a thrill to see AI do what I do – conceptualise, storyboard, animate, etc. I’d love with glee to see a machine output in seconds what I do that normally takes me weeks or months, or years. Perhaps I’d feel then that a long holiday might be justified? I think it’d be a fair fight, and if AI can do it up to the same standard as I can and with the same personalised nuance, then I take my hat off to it. If it took my job, I guess that’s also fair game, and I’d find something else to do, or maybe figure out what the differentiating factor is between humans and AI, and create work that focuses on whatever that difference is. Maybe there’ll be a premium on wholly-human created work?
It’s definitely not the pearl-clutching anti-AI-art high horse moralistic view that so many artists share. I believe when digital art first came onto the scene in the 90s, there were similar outcries. But now, I seem to remember a stat that something like 90% of art created worldwide is digital, and though the digital tools might be the same for many, a great artist can still express themselves and produce better work than a poor artist, so skill is still a factor. If something can do it cheaper/faster/better, then that thing isn’t going to go away, and standing in the way of greater accessibility and efficiency seems redundant. ‘Art’ was commodified a long time ago. A person can’t put the genie back in the bottle, and resistance would be temporary at best. Humans have been adapting and integrating new technologies for generations. I kind of think the artists who are most worried are the ones outputting generic stuff and not saying anything new, and who may as well be AI remix-machines themselves. Perhaps then it’s more craftspeople and not artists who are most concerned?
Hopefully the AI push will push humans into deeper questioning of who and what we are and give us a better understanding of ourselves, and many of us will need to start producing work that AI can’t – that’s a good thing! Maybe it’ll help us to understand how to create work with more soul? Complacency can lead to stagnation, and nothing lately in the world of media I’ve seen is really pushing any envelope in any meaningful way. Creatives including myself self-censor and dull our edge for the sake of commercial conformity and to not rock the boat. That’s a major failing. A lot of what’s going on in the world with “us vs them” wars, gender-bending, political factionalism, AI fear-mongering etc. is (in my humble opinion) humans trying to answer the question of who and what we are, and what we’re not, almost as though The Universe is trying to understand itself through us, and we repeatedly create and apply new labels (including the label of ‘artist’) that keep changing and never stick for too long, as our infinite core doesn’t want to be identified with any defined thing. It’s a moving target so we’ll never settle on a satisfactory answer, and yet we’ll still keep chasing that dragon.
The topic of Copyright is an interesting one. There are AI models trained on plenty of copyright work, so who’s liable – the people who trained their models on copyrighted work, the AI itself, or the end AI user who creates infringing works? In general, I think the concept of copyright itself is the issue, that “I can own a concept and you can’t”. The more I think about copyright and the bonkers idea that someone is able own an idea separate to humanity, the less it makes sense. Patents and copyrights are an unnatural impediment to collective progress but apparently a necessary concept to keep the false concepts of infinite growth and maximum exploitation of capitalism afloat. Medical patents – an insane idea. I kind of fantasise that AI ends up being more or less the end of copyright. We’re each affected and influenced by everything around us; we can’t not be – it’s how culture and humans progress. Now we have a machine capable of perfectly being influenced by work it observes, and suddenly it’s illegal? Nonsense. One way or another, I’m here for the dumpster fire that’s just starting of AI + Copyright, lol.
Some other hot takes come to mind:
“AI is currently the worst it’s ever going to be, and it’s already amazing.”Somebody who is correct
“AI won’t take your job… though the other guy who is using AI will.”Somebody else who is correct
When AI does start taking a lot of our human jobs, the next topic I guess may be UBI – ‘Universal Basic Income’. Perhaps AI will be able to sustainably help humans meet our basic needs without many humans needing to take on meaningless BS / busywork jobs (apparently most of the jobs in the world are unnecessary and to keep people distracted and doing *something*) to partake in capitalism; a system which probably can’t continue in perpetuity without us destroying our home because capitalism demands infinite growth which is impossible on a planet with limited resources and an increasing population that can’t solve our greed problem.
If AI is our eventual downfall, then I somehow feel like we deserve it. All the more sweeter irony that humans are wilful architects of our own demise – greedy corporations racing one another to create a machine that will eventually undo us. Finally, human greed might have met its match? AI, like the Internet, is neither inherently good nor bad—it’s a tool. It’s humans who use the tool in good or bad ways. AI is like a mirror for humanity, so if we’re scared of AI, we’re scared of ourselves, and maybe that’ll force us to look at ourselves closer and ask ourselves what it means to be human in comparison to robots who can so closely mimic our work – and in many cases surpass us.
We can’t stop progress, progress is why we’re here. We romanticise ‘original conditions’ before technology but that’s just a failing of human thinking. The best we can do is try to integrate this new tool in a healthy way, and definitely use it. I’m keen to see where it goes.
I jammed this cartoon concept with ChatGPT:
Not bad. I drew it during a phone call: