Eric Wayne has just published a most thought-provoking post entitled AI Won. Human Artists and Humankind are Defeated. It’s well worth reading, particularly if, like me, you’re not aware of the amazing capabilities exhibited by the latest AI programs. As Eric says: “the latest algorithm from Midjourney enables anyone at all to make astounding art without any prior skill, training, understanding, or even exposure to art…” Surely an amazing statement, but Eric is an accomplished artist and I’m sure he’s correct.
So, whatever inspiration the artist puts into his/her work can be simulated by the AI forever more and in great variety. Art would appear to have really gone the way of chess, where computers can now easily beat the best human players. And of course other forms of AI are being developed by the likes of Google to make informed decisions from huge amounts of data that would be beyond the individual human being, potentially revolutionising transport, healthcare, environmental management and other sectors of the economy.
What the AI can never do is copy the inner lived experience of the human being, the pleasure of playing a game of chess with another human, the joy of following one’s own creativity, or appreciating the creativity of another, or the appreciation of the AI work itself. Yes, it can simulate all these things, but AI is all on the surface; there is no depth, no life. It is a massive simulation of what the left brain can do and understand. There is no equivalent of the right brain, other than through simulation.
So we face a world of massive change, through an artifical intelligence that has no inner world, no conscience, no morality, no intuition. In a sense this is the ultimate left brain project whereby, somewhere along the way of our development, morality became replaced by laws, the inspiration of the prophets was superseded by institutionalised religions, and now creativity is replaced by algorithms.
We cannot stop all this development, which is itself wonderfully creative. However, we are approaching a world of some peril. Consider the use of AI in warfare. The AI has no moral sense, no common sense, other than a set of rules that someone may have encoded in them. The challenge, as Isaac Asimov was telling us all those years ago, is how do we keep any sort of control on this stuff? Maybe we can’t and, in the end, good and bad things will happen…
Featured image was generated by AI in a few seconds – see Eric’s post.
3 thoughts on “AI, Art and Life”
Barry, you have articulated these new challenges to our human experiences so very well. Frighteningly so. I appreciate that there are new opportunities as well as new challenges, but the pull of having convenient “apps” do your thinking for you, even your creativity, makes me sad. It seems to diminish and even pervert the human experience. 🥲
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Right. The AI has no feeling, doesn’t care if it makes art or not, and doesn’t even know it’s doing it, because it’s not even conscious. This is a challenge to consciousness itself. The AI chat bots I think have already passed the infamous Turning test, in which case they could fool us into thinking there’s a human doing the typing on the other end. And so what is the value of subjective consciousness if it is not necessary to create all the objective effects of consciousness? AI is a threat or challenge to consciousness itself.
Well, I seem to have just lumped AI triumphing over artists at this point, and am not all that bothered by it. I’ve been grappling with this for at least a half year, when I wrote some long posts about AI and art. Somehow I’ve come out the other side and healed from battle scars. Not being able to compete with AI is, it turns out, a lot less stressful than doing everything I can to beat it a few more times. Now I can just do what I feel like without trying to compete with the art Terminator.
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AI is not “art”, it’s a facade, a replica, a chilling emptiness, a cold emotionless capability and it’s devoid of authenticty. It reminds me of a scifi story I heard years back, called “The cold equations”, where a stowaway on a space ship had to be jettisoned to ensure there was enough fuel to complete the mission. Extra weight on board wasn’t part of the unfeeling calculations. I like Eric’s final statement & hope, as an artist, he will continue to do just what he feels like. As for that woman – she looks really cheesy (pardon the pun), tasteless and pointless (apart from being an example of what AI can produce).
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