Thinking about AI Art

This is a hot topic. In the last few years a lot of content in all formats has been created with the use of generative Artificial Intelligence tools. It allows people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to, to generate some fairly nifty results. In many ways this is a win, you can easily and cheaply get useable results; plus you can use AI tools to help you explore concepts and ideas, or help with research. I’ve done all of this, and so long as you remember the flaws and limitations of the tool you’re using, all is well.

What jumps out at me when using these tools, is that the AI tools are clearly not as smart as some might have you believe. They routinely make simple errors, generating misshapen anatomy, inconsistent symmetry, and misinterpreting prompts. Depending on the dataset, model, and other parameters, it can generate some real howlers. I also see there’s no spark there, no consciousness, at least not yet anyway. This is something that leads me to a personal view when dealing with AI “art”. It isn’t art.

Art requires an artist, and said artist must be sentient, conscious, and self aware. An artist must be able to marvel at the stars, feel awe at the sweeping vista of a mountain range; an AI tool can do none of these things, it can compute input given to it by a human but that’s about all. That artistic sense, vision, and soul are entirely absent.

We’ve seen AI deepfakes already, some of them frighteningly good. But the rot isn’t simply confined to the realm of adult content, with its own severe effects, it extends further into politics and beyond. The potential consequences for politics are particularly worrying, and you can even find a paper at Oxford University Press on the detection of political deepfakes. [1]

AI is a tool with a lot of potential. My opinion is that it could be useful to an artist, but only as one more tool in an artists toolbox; perhaps the output might used in a collage, or as a smaller component of a much larger work? Would the artist then be neither Human nor AI, but be a kind of Cyborg? It’s an interesting thought.

I think that we’re walking, with insufficient caution, into a dangerous new world. One full of potential for sure, but one that looks to need a level of carefulness that we just aren’t bothering with. This is looking likely to get quite unpleasant.

[1] The detection of political deepfakes


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