Recently a lot more people have become aware of the potential of A.I. art, and a lot of them have opinions about that potential. Some optimistic, some pessimistic, some absolutely apocalyptic, and some ultimately utopian. I think pretty much all of those opinions are about as valuable or insightful as any other opinion about anything else, which is to say that they’re worthless. It is objectively true that soon A.I. art will be able to replicate the styles of existing artists to the point that most, or perhaps even all, will be unable to differentiate between the works that are legitimate and the works that are artificial. That might sound either horrifying or awe inspiring depending upon who you are and where your sympathies lie, but it isn’t actually all that new. Art forgers have existed for thousands of years, yes, in the past they were still human beings doing the forging, but so what? What really changes? You still need a human being to put in the information, and then curate whatever comes out. You could argue that it makes the job of thieves and crooks easier and therein lies the problem, but all technology does that. If one has an affinity for the original artist, they will still seek out verification of the work’s legitimacy. And this is something that needs to be reaffirmed in the minds of all,
“Art is only as interesting as the human being who is looking at it.”
You can take the most beautiful painting in the world, but if you put it in front of the eyes of a moron, it’s very well possible that they will feel nothing while looking at it. Say that a piece of artificial art is created, and say that it is beautiful, if human beings derive value from it, that value is still coming from the human beings who are looking at it. And if those human beings look at a piece of artificial art and see nothing but soulless recreation of preexisting styles, that too is due to the human beings. We are not even close to the creation of truly sapient, or even sentient, artificial intelligence, what we have currently are very complex tools. And tools are an artist’s best friend. From the paint brush to the camera, all tools are useful in the hands of the artist, just as all tools are destructive in the hands of the brute. And artificial art is no different. The ability to gather preexisting images, dump them into a computer, and then have that computer pump out an amalgamation of those images that you can then tweak and twist is an ability that will be utilized by both hacks and visionaries. In the beginning, it will mostly be hacks, and those hacks will create crap, and that crap will make a lot of hacks in different fields upset, because those new hacks will be replacing other old hacks in the creation and monetization of crap, that’s just how things work when you’re a hack. But eventually visionaries will figure out ways to use that technology to not just recreate and ripoff preexisting works, but to actually create new works.
So what am I saying? Maybe it sounds like I’m falling into the optimistic camp when it comes to artificial art, but I’m not, I fully believe that all the negatives still exist, A.I. will be used to steal, to deceive, to screw over creators in other fields, it absolutely will. No different than how the internet has made the piracy of video games, movies, and music easier than at any other point in human history. The internet has also given artists the ability to pirate tools like Photoshop and a million other products they need to make what they want to make. Technology moves forward and it makes everyone’s lives easier, both the saint and the sinner benefit from every advance in human ability. This is not something to lament or to praise, it is something to acknowledge and deal with. There will be nuclear bombs, and nuclear power plants. The will be vaccines, and there will be man made viruses. There will be good, and there will be evil. This is the world we must live in, a place of contrast and contradiction. Nothing under the sun is ever new, and the more you learn about the past, the less you’ll be surprised by the future.