Consider how the following scenario might play out: you train an AI with your own particular likes and dislikes, and every consideration you could put into your work. Eventually it takes over and makes everything for you so you can slack off. It can enable you to work in all forms, creating films, books, albums, designing fashion, sculpture, architecture - each can have your personality and style. It can then go further and tweak your work for every member of your audience depending on their preferences.
Those last couple paragraphs are so beautiful and lucid!
This is compelling writing, and utterly terrifying. Exciting to have you here DOR ✌️
One of the most intelligent, poignant and provoking pieces I’ve read about this. And hits in a personal way as I’ve found myself drowning in my own infinite art scenario as I relish in these mind blowing “tools” and while there are no doubt benefits, the growing sense of emptiness amidst the exponential growth is impossible to ignore. Thanks for your thoughtful perspectives. Look forward to more.
I imagine the Blade Runner scenario. The most beautiful images constantly displayed in synthetic neon LED's will only dull peoples senses in the overexposed commercial saturation, as all audiences will know that every piece of art will be inherently sold to people by faceless corporations, removing any & all purpose behind the imagination & wonder within any image other than, "Buy". When you dilute the message, art becomes a worthless droning, "hm".
For me its reminiscent of the 2010s when generative art was the craze. Processing and TouchDesigner enabled artists to create an environment in which forms can emerge. It was up to the artist to define the boundaries in which those forms could manifest, aka the idea.
This is similar to Plato’s analogy of the cave. The designer being the person holding the original idea as if were a shape on a stick, the cave being the app/digital environment in which it all occurs and the output the shadows projected on the wall by the flame flickering on the idea.
Now AI is an evolution of this, but due to the speed and quantity it produces “art” I think it would lead to 𝐂𝐎𝐍𝐓𝐄𝐍𝐓 𝐈𝐍𝐅𝐋𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐎𝐍. The abundance of content will devaluate it, reducing it to something even less than snacks. How many times have you been scrolling through your feeds, feeling like you've become the automaton. You are slowly being overfed, with AI accelerating it to a point where you have seen it all or at least can see it all, no matter how crazy/silly/beautiful/scary/etc.
Then what will be the value of an image or text?
I think we as a species will move towards a big bang of forms where only the idea/concept will matter. We need to unchain ourselves from the wall and see how we can work on the ideas instead.
AI is good for creating flickering shadows, but (as of yet) not for an idea with deeper meaning with contextual reference to the human experience.
Also you should really, really play Metal Gear Solid 2. Or at least just listen to the monolog about online content. Eye opener.
Yes, and now imagine this infinite art machine gets hooked up to your brain, making you generate your own imaginations in real time. A waking lucid dream machine from which we never have to wake up.
And yes, these image generators may drive down the value of art to literally zero in a not very distant future, which leaves only performance and conceptual artworks for humans to create, with all image spaces being explored and ready to be generated on prompt.
Still I find it weirdly paradoxical: I have the strong feeling that these machines can diminish our capabilities for creativity and problem solving, yet i am transfixed by the sheer look into the ininite possibilities. I just created a bunch of drawings of the "Ministry of silly walks" by James Jean and I *love* them, but maybe I'd still prefer a real ballpoint pen-drawing hanging on my wall.
Your Infinite Art Scenario is part of what I call "The Age of Pan" and movies like the parallel universe hopping "Everything, Everywhere, all at once" is timely. We're entering an age where all possibilities are solved problems, which we can access with a click/prompt/transaction. And while I *am* pessimistic about all of this, I'm also aware that I'm a 50 year old guy and that humans adapt to just anything, so I guess we'll be fine. Creativity will shift to where it's needed. There's a whole climate crisis to fix, so maybe we can do with some infinite pictures while inventing new economies to suck carbon out of the air. Relax is what I'm saying. ;)
I am not as worried as you seem to be because of the utter incompetence of the average human system. We're extremely bad at making a reliable method of manufacturing anything, let alone masterful robot art. To me the art is broken, ugly and soul-less just like the "perfect" structural integrity models we see from engineers using AI (everything they create looks like a bad pair of Yeesy's).
You have put into words some very important concepts, difficult to express but really important in this context: the role of a human figure within all this, both from the point of view of those who produce, and from the point of view of those who consume; the intrinsic value that we attribute to art is closely linked to the human presence, not so much to the tools or to the technical ability (examples: the invention of photography has not diminished painting, and the creation of many modern works is no longer performed by author); and the fact that companies will not be able to replace artists because the artist wants to dare and overcome limits, a company wants to remain in the comfort zone to create profit.
I hope that over time, more and more people are aware and active in this discussion, as it is something that will involve most of the current "consumers", especially regarding the part of "customized generated content".
Fascinating thoughts around AI, thank you. I love the examples about streaming services (I agree, Netflix makes stuff that I imagine an Alien would think humans might enjoy) and the evil pencil analogy. My own far less elegantly posited prediction and naive hope is that AI gets exceedingly excellent and somehow cracks all encrypted data online, meaning all bank accounts, emails, patents, state secrets etc. become public domain, not even the big corporates can shut it down or censor it, it's the end of all copyrights and the end of a paradigm of thinking about any information as protected, as all information is freely available to everyone all at once, and anyone can create great art akin to the masters. Some kind of singularity reset. Not quite sure why I'm so drawn to this idea (other than wanting to see how it'd play out and test humans' proclivity for control), and not sure what happens after that, but hopefully after a collective existential crisis about identity and what's important, a situation where humans work together and not against one another. My strong feeling is that anything that can be automated should be automated, even if that puts me out of work.
Beautiful essay. You add unusual and much-needed nuances to the AI-craze. One side-thought : I’ve seen myself evolve from an enthusiastic prophet of AI-enriched writing — hypnotized by the flexible, surreal muscle of OpenAI’s GPT-3 — to a much more critical user, and now almost an opponent. I think it is fair to allow everyone to undergo that shift and to “feel” what’s wrong about this technology; also, to allow everyone a proper time frame to absorb its mind-bending implications. It feels unfair to ask the masses to accept a set of dogmas that we (the explorers) have acquired through experience. It would be interesting to read about your journey in a future article. Best regards from Berlin
Well said, and important to say it. There is a book that underlines what you write in this very on-point essay... it's more frightening than most of us realize. The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff. Long and complex read, but highly, highly recommend.
Love this article! very thought provoking.
I think the Infinite Art will play out without anything stopping it. Counterpoints to the 3 things holding it back:
1. corporations with power are not just google/microsoft/etc.. entertainment/video games/adult content are massive industries, they will get their hands on the cutting edge soon enough and won't censor anything. Shocking and divisive content sells best.
2-3. we won't be able to differentiate what was made by AI and human so how will we reject one and not the other? We don't get to see how the art is made like the analogy of the piano player, we only see the final product. Also every creative human will be AI-enabled for concept art, background content, etc so there will not be a perceptible line between human and AI art.
Thank you for your writings, can't wait to read more!
"Imagine a pencil manufacturer being sued for a racist drawing or bad words it wrote."
This I can plainly not agree to on grounds the pencil in concern here did not pick itself up then danced on paper to express hate\ignorance.
This is the hand, the person; sketching that out.
(Forgive me if i am too literal here. Am best known for this.)
Thoughts well writen and very inspiring!
Very interesting point of view and thanks for sharing. Wonder if this was the article one could have read with the invention of the photographs? How did it go in the end? What is the difference with AI? I guess, first of all, is not really AI. Second of all, what is happening now it might just be the initial big wave and very hard to predict what will follow. I am doing a PhD on these questions and I your post is very inspiring. Thanks again for sharing. Just as an hint, I presume you must have seen this promotion: https://youtu.be/LFmpVy6eGXs which makes me thing that artists will find a way to exploit the tool, no matter how advance might look now.