“Let’s go on a picnic!!” by Ruie@VAAJIN and Midjourney’s AI art bot.

Right, AI has a few wrinkles to iron out before it can wear the heavy weight belt, but it’s obvious that once it does, the possibilities are unbounded, and we biological, vulnerable, natural creatures can’t hope to compete.

There are really only a handful of people who will benefit from this development, and only really in terms of monetary personal gain at the expense of tens of millions of human artists. But not just artists. Art was the final frontier of what was left of humans that could not be bettered by artificial intelligence. That island of humanity has now been submerged. We have made ourselves redundant.

I’ve dabbled in AI myself, and below is just one of more than 10,000 images I used AI to create. I forgot I even made this one [well, the AI gave me 2 responses to my prompt, and this was a lesser quality free AI], and thousands more.

I’ve accepted for decades that any handheld calculator was superior to me at math. Spell check could beat me in a spelling B. Humans lost irrevocably to computers at Chess, and then Go. AI can now play video games, and it learns them without any instruction, and plays them sped up. There is no strategy game where humans stand a chance. But what AI couldn’t do was be creative. That’s what I told my college students when I was teaching English in China. I was wrong. Today, whether it’s true creativity or not doesn’t really matter, because the results are the same. No artist can compete with AI, and no number of artists can, either. Human intelligence can’t compete with artificial intelligence, full stop.

It is true that AI couldn’t beat humans without first being trained on billions of images available online, specifically including the works of living artists, and without their permission. The people who knowingly orchestrated this because they could get away with it, despite the obvious moral issues, have permanently thrown the human species under the bus for their own slice of the pie. When it comes to music, the same company responsible for one of the main AI bots claimed that it would not use copyrighted material out of respect for the musician artists. This is not the reality. They wisely feared the lawsuits from the record labels, when they knew they could get away with stealing from visual artists. It was a real dick move from them, on par with Dr. Gaius Baltar selling out Battlestar Galactica to the Cylons. Had they not done that, artists would have had a future indefinitely. But they chose to nip it in the bud out of personal greed and ambition. And now it’s too late. We’ve been fed to the machine so that the machine can better extinguish us. But the good news is that a handful of people made a killing off of it. Never mind that their own children and grandchildren and great grandchildren… can give up on art now and forever. Except as a hobby, but why bother really?

That’s a bit of a sour take, I do get the blessing of AI as a tool to explore what is visually possible.

I stayed up whole nights obsessively prompting AI. I’ve kept and catalogued thousands of my results. You can explore uncharted visual territory by interfacing with an alien intelligence, “alien” as in inhumane.

And I don’t mean to denigrate serious attempts to use AI as an artistic tool. I would like to explore that more myself. My point is that AI has surpassed the skill level of humans in making visual art. Nobody would contest that on the grounds of speed and versatility. The only question is the very high end. Ah, the best examples of visual art may still be human, even if AI is winning at the county fairs. I would say that at this particular juncture AI can NOT beat the best artists at their own very specific style. Maybe that margin is what to strive for being in. But no artist could possibly contend with AI at multiple styles. So, AI is the all around better artist.

We can see that it can’t get lettering right. But correcting lettering on an otherwise bad-ass AI creation is doing assistant’s work for the master, which is AI. Very difficult for an artist to use AI and not take the back seat. Shouldn’t be too long before it can correct for lettering.

I would be less ambivalently for AI if it hadn’t been set up in just the perfect way to put artists out of business. It’s not the tech itself that is so rough, but that it was allowed to train on everyone’s art in order to make it a more powerful and irresistible item on the market. I would have been extremely content just to use AI on images designated as in the public domain.

But playing with a tool that will make whatever image you tell it to, like a genie in a bottle, is a miracle of science. Would that the miracle was wholly benevolent, and wasn’t something to be harnessed as a paid for service. But there it is. A very double-edged sword.

Let me just give you some of the first examples that came up when I searched Twitter for the latest Tweets made by people sharing “their” recent “creations” using Midjourney.

These are all 100% by AI, and while it used to require at least some prompting skill to get good results, the latest algorithm from Midjourney enables anyone at all to make astounding art without any prior skill, training, understanding, or even exposure to art. These are surely better results, and generally I’d suspect the people responsible put a lot of effort in [I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt], but I’ve seen live demos of people putting in their first texts and getting incredibly realized imagery.

Sure, AI still makes some mistakes when it comes to anatomy, but, it’s absolutely ridiculous how good it is. When I first used the AI nobody was coming up with results like this:

Now this is getting commonplace. The AI messes up hands, but at the rate it’s improving, that may no longer be the case in months to come. What it can already do is unbelievable, and it does it in seconds flat. I’m talking about extreme detail, textures, lighting and shading, modeling, and even composition and color combinations. It can mix 3d sculptural renderings and digital painting styles on the fly. It’s a f_cking off the charts mega universal genius.

People will say that AI art has no soul, and so on, and I’m pretty sure that’s true, however, it can fake it. Chess players used to think they could defeat AI at Chess because they had imagination, insight, spontaneity, feeling, wit, subterfuge, and so on. None of that amounted to much against raw data processing power.

Intelligence isn’t everything when it comes to art, at least until you are dealing with super intelligence. What if the AI is 10,000 times smarter than us? How about 1,000,000 times smarter. Eventually, it can fake anything and everything.

With the advent of ChatGPT Ai is now writing poetry and song lyrics, essays, coding, and whatever boilerplate a company needs… Its poems are not as impressive as its imagery, yet, but give it a few more months. Music is also starting to be taken over by AI.

It doesn’t really matter which human artists are responsible for the AI images, including myself. AI is mostly the real artist behind them. And, if you stop and think about it for a minute or two, AI doesn’t need us to tell it what to make, either. It could do that on its own, as well, pilfering from all the libraries of the world for ideas. But since AI isn’t going to pay businesses to use itself to generate images, there’s a vested interest in convincing people they are at all necessary to input prompts. We aren’t needed here at all.

There are people who have embraced the AI art bots and see themselves as artists ahead of the pack, riding the crest of the art wave. They are not. They are end users playing a game with digital super intelligence, and curating the results. That’s all fine and good, but let’s not kid ourselves. The AI is doing things we are not remotely capable of. On top of that we see multiple artists churning out the same sorts of interchangeable AI results. Even the most self-deluded “AI artist” who somehow takes credit for the technical ability and genius of AI is just another human, and all humans have been beaten by AI.

This is something that was obvious to me when Chess master Garry Kasparov was defeated by Microsoft’s Deep Blue more than a decade ago. While the programmers and technicians cheered for themselves and their team, they missed that they themselves and their descendants would never be able to compete with AI at Chess again, and soon would follow every other strategy game and mathematical endeavor. Sure, they won the battle of the week, but lost the war of all time, and permanently. And so it is with human “artists” who share their latest results from AI as their own brilliant creation. In reality they are just showcasing what AI is capable of. I still hold onto the notion that someone could certainly use AI in a very individual and creative way, but that just trains the AI, in which case the AI then shares that same capacity to use against humans, so to speak. It’s a bit like outsmarting a Chess computer back in the day, and then the computer cataloguing the whole game, every possible permutation of it, and using your own strategy against you in the next game.

Any image an artist creates can be uploaded into AI, assimilated, tweaked, and regurgitated into endless variations. We can console ourselves that, yes, if AI were 10% better, and able to nail hands, for example, we’d be through. 10%? It’s likely to be 10X more powerful down the line.

The programmers and the CEOs of the AI art bots have been bested by AI as well, whether they realize it or not. All of them can be replaced. In fact, their roles are much easier to have AI perform than it was to teach AI to make art.

Sure, sure, you may not like the styles of some or all of the AI examples I gathered up within a couple minutes. These tended to be an illustrational batch. They basically show off just how powerful the AI is. But, yeah, it can do abstraction, and virtually whatever style you want. And if it can’t now, just give it a wee bit more time.

Of course, high end digital artists can still beat AI at their own game — I’ve done it myself — but we will all admit that we can’t beat it at hundreds of other games that it’s also proficient at, and we can read the writing on the wall that once it’s been trained on our own art, and had a few more massive upgrades, we are in deep shit.

If you are a visual artist yourself, and disagree with my prognosis, let me give you a task. I need a bas relief of a woman who is made out of cheese. You have one week to make it from scratch. Below is AI’s entry done in seconds flat.

Most visual artists can’t do a nose very well, and many amateurs won’t even attempt nostrils, and instead just make some sort of V for a nose. The mouth and nose here are very advanced in terms of anatomy, modeling, and lighting. And the woman is also stylized! And this is an over-the-counter variety of AI available to the general public doing what it can in mere seconds. If you can appreciate the skill it took to do this, especially in the time frame — which is absolutely impossible for a human — you can then extrapolate that crystalline brilliance applied to any other visual art endeavor. We are outclassed by magnitudes of visual intelligence. Remember, AI also did everything else in this post, and millions of other images, and it’s in its infancy.

At one point in our history we had to face that we were NOT the center of the universe, and that the Earth in fact rotated around the sun. We are no longer the most intelligent entity in the known universe. There’s been a seismic shift that’s greater than merely displacing our misperceived place in the universe. By creating an intelligence greater than our own, we have made ourselves into animals.

And do you know what people’s dream is for us in the future? They imagine the AI will create custom holodeck type immersive fantasy simulations for our personal enjoyment. In other words, our group ambition is to be lost in the Matrix. We want to be the sheep whose bodies are turned into biological batteries while we sleep in some dream simulacrum orchestrated by our machine overlords.

Friends tell me that my posts and videos are too long, and so I will end this thought here, and we can take up the conversation down the road. Is there still a role for artists? Is there any point in making art?

I’m still doing it, for a human.

~ Ends

39 replies on “AI Won. Human Artists and Humankind are Defeated.

  1. Still, there is one realm where AI has not replaced the human artist and that is the space in which we artists talk to each other. The exchange of ideas, inspiration, encouragement, tips on techniques etc. etc. And we can’t sit down with ‘a’ AI and chat over a coffee or glass of wine. At least that’s what I’m telling myself in order not to become totally scared and depressed.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AI chat can fake those transactions as well, but not in person. I’m still making art, but at the moment I’m only using my imagination, no references, no 3D modeling, no AI… More on that and why when the next piece is finished. But the general tenor is that it’s just me, what I can do with only my own skill and imagination. And whatever I produce can be fed into AI, and it might even beat me at my own game. But still, I can do things that are only whatever I can do on my own.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The social dynamics of new technologies can be spotted through human history. Every jump made some human skills redundant. And now we have apparently reached the level that the whole human race can be made redundant. The environmentalists will have a heyday: overpopulation is the driving force behind all pollution. The planet is saved!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, Shaharee, I think you are partly right here, for whatever my thoughts are worth on the matter. Elon Musk and others who are themselves creating robots to replace human workers predict that we won’t be needed in the not too distant future. Their solution is a “universal guaranteed income” because we’ll all be unemployable, given that robots could do the job – as they do now on care assembly lines – better than us, with no breaks, less mistakes, and for less money.

      However, I am extremely skeptical that those who have money will disperse it to the rest of us so we can live in comfort, plugged into some pleasing Matrix-like virtual reality, while contributing squat. Once we are useless to the powerful, I can’t imagine human nature will do an about face, and the super-privileged will sacrifice their wealth to allow everyone else to live a minimal existence. Rather, I’d think they’d want to cut themselves loose of the burden of the mass of useless humanity: let the next super bug, or climate disaster take its toll. And where will the elite get the money to provide us with a universal income if they can’t tax us all because we can’t work, and we can’t buy their products?

      I just don’t see the equation where the more useless we get the better our lives will become. Just consider our perennial love of war, and apparent inability to fathom the infinite suffering we inflict on masses of other people. Strangers, en mass, have no more meaning to us than cattle. And if we couldn’t eat cattle, we surely wouldn’t be housing them and feeding them.

      I do not believe we will be pampered for being useless.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Fine article. Remarkable examples! And much to think about. I hope people do, altho it may be too late.

    At least we have something to play with in our final hours. AI gave me a lot of pleasure in the short time that I had access to MidJourney (thank you again) but now I use the skimpy online ones only for laughs. Asking it questions has been well worth the time it takes type them. Lots of chuckles. But each time I do that it feels more and more depressing. Maybe it’s like laughing at the baby-antics of a grizzly bear cub before it realizes it can destroy you with one flick of its paw? AI needs us for a while, some of us anyway. But I suppose that someday it’ll be able to construct its own workers and we’ll all be extraneous life forms that may warrant mercy only for as long as we amuse AI in whatever way AI can be amused, if there is one. Destroying us will be easy. One way is to cook up some chemical weapons. Last year AI began working on that (at our request, of course):
    Even if that article’s hooey – which I doubt – the ideas behind it aren’t. Humanity has a lot to worry about. But AI does help us make some amazing images. I wonder if the visual art tools (and the music and the writing ones ) are meant to keep us occupied while the truly nasty things are being developed right in front of our dazzled eyes.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have been reading your blog And recognize that you’re a sincere artist and a good critic. And so I hope you won’t feel that what I am about to say comes from a bad place. It only comes from someone who has only ever been interested in making things by hand.

    The day artists began making digital images that mimicked handmade images and decided they were just as good as the “real thing” or even desirable, those artists sealed their fate. Because not everyone has bought into this aesthetic, I do not think the whole art ship is going down. However, the AI juggernaut cannot be stopped and it’s going at light speed. Some day the pool will be mined dry and the works sueezed out of it will no longer resemble anything that today we consider human. These images have little intrinsic worth. They are most interesting for what they may currently say about us as a species. If there are enough people to recognize that a child’s drawing has more value than such images, we might be able to invest in ourselves again. If this turns out not to be the case then art is not the only thing that will become extinct.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is a bit like saying, “Fine, AI can write poems, but I write mine with a quill pen that I dip in an ink well”. We are talking about the visual intelligence of AI, not what it can do physically, which is absolutely nothing unless it is combined with robotics, at which point it will be able to make art “by hand”. Maybe a musical analogy makes more sense. AI can and has composed symphonies, which, by the way, were voted by human musical experts as superior to human symphonies. Your response is like saying, “But it can’t play a banjo!” It can mimic the sound of a banjo; a human banjo player can play a song it composed for the banjo; and if anyone cared to robotics is already advanced enough that a robot/AI banjo player could be built.

      We are talking about the visual intelligence of AI, not if it can play patty-cake or not. It can make children’s drawings now. Some people have explored that. It can learn to incorporate amateur mistakes. This is nothing for it.

      Lastly, if anyone wanted to bother, a robot equipped with AI could make utterly convincing children’s physical drawings, churning out millions of them in record time.

      In the end, your defense of human art is not much more comforting than saying, “Well, maybe AI can come up with a better chess move, but it can’t move the piece”. That’s not the point, and combined with simple robotics, it CAN more the piece.

      Or just imagine we are looking at art within a VR world like the Matrix. Well, AI can do anything physically that we can in that realm. So, we can’t just think because we are physical and AI isn’t that it isn’t smarter than us.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think in my attempt to be concise I gave the wrong impression. I’m not talking about physicality in and of itself or denying the “visual intelligence” of AI. I’m talking about the human fascination for mimesis and mimicry in all of its manifestations and all of its techniques, and that would include AI’s mimicry of human touch and so-called error. It’s a very old fascination that has now brought us to this crisis. I’m talking about an extreme case of this fascination that goes beyond wonder at the “realism” of a made object to a preference for it, not just a preference for a certain type of art, but for the imitation over the original (‘I know this steak isn’t real, but I don’t care’). A child’s drawing is certainly of more value than a “perfect” AI imitation of it, even if it could fool the child’s mother. That is a part of the argument I don’t think we have time for in this small space. Suffice to say for now, humanity’s love of mimesis and mimicry has now brought us to a place where the AI magician can fool virtually anyone and it would appear that this has led some to despair over making art at all or even over the future of humanity, and this before the robot “superior” in every way to a human has even entered the scene. I choose life and I choose art, even if that means finding a new way to make art. I am interested in finding the best way to articulate this problem and think about solutions. Thanks for the exchange.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Mimicry, to the degree it applies at all, may be a mere side issue. In your previous comment, you rather boldly stated, “The day artists began making digital images that mimicked handmade images and decided they were just as good as the “real thing” or even desirable, those artists sealed their fate.”

        Your argument is that digital art is merely mimicry, fake, undesirable, and so digital artists are reaping what they sowed, and getting their just deserts. That may be the most anti-digital art stance I’ve seen in over 5 years. It rests on the premise that digital art is mimicry of traditional mediums.

        This only applies to the medium, only sometimes, not what the artist does with it. It’s like arguing that because typing a poem in Word mimics typing a poem physically on paper with a typewriter, anything a poet writes using a computer is mere imitation of whatever a poet writes using a typewriter. What if they are two different poems written by the same author? Is one a mere imitation of the other when the poem itself is completely different? Whether it was typed in Word, with a typewriter, or written with a needle and blood doesn’t change the poem.

        If you were to study illustration in college you would learn both traditional and digital techniques. Much like my poet example above, there are probably millions of living artists who are skilled in both traditional and digital mediums. I am one of them. I got my MFA before I learned to use Photoshop. Any experienced artist competent in both mediums does NOT think digital art is mere mimicry of physical art, but rather a different set of tools which can produce similar or wholly dissimilar results. Just as a synthesizer can be used to imitate the sound of a piano, and also make sounds a piano cannot make, it is also the case that digital mediums can both imitate traditional techniques as well as produce novel ones.

        Anyone who has bothered to learn 3D modeling on the computer, as I have, knows that Blender or Zbrush doesn’t merely imitate pottery or clay sculpture, but can be used to make things like robots or vegetation or planets. It can also animate them, as well as produce an array of possibilities that physical sculpture is not capable of.

        AI, similarly, does not only imitate traditional or digital mediums, but can also produce novel results.

        The most hard-working and skilled artists living today are probably primarily working digitally by this point. If you study illustration in college, you will learn both skills because they overlap significantly. Nobody who is qualified to have an opinion thinks that drawing with a stylus and tablet is easier or less legitimate than drawing with a pencil on paper. Those who have mastered both may have one or another preference depending on their personality or mood, but generally speaking, most artists will go digital because of the vastly increased flexibility and versatility.

        I think you are on to something about AI mimicking human art, in that AI doesn’t even know it is making art, and couldn’t care less, being unconscious. But the idea that digital art by humans is mere mimicry of traditional art is wrong, and insulting to anyone who has overcome the steep learning curves necessary to master these challenging new mediums. That said, yes, AI is to a very large degree imitating human art, and hopefully that’s hope for authentic human art. But only if we can actually tell the difference, and if human art comes out on top.


      3. It might be argued that mimicry is a side issue in the bigger debate. However, it is the essential issue of my comment. I could have been (and, in retrospect, should have been) more specific in my example from the history of digital art—say, the first time a complete digital painting was constructed to look just like an oil painting on canvas. We’re just talking about one kind of digital art, not the whole world of digital art. That is an example of mimicry of an oil painting on canvas, rather a photo of one. Is a digital mimicry of a photo of an oil painting on canvas more desirable than an oil paining on canvas? Not to me. It seems to me the possibilities of digital art are so rich that this is a very poor use of it. Far more desirable in my eyes are digital works that look like nothing that could be achieved by hand, however long the artist labored. I don’t think your poem analogy fits here. When someone types a poem in Word they’re not trying to wow the reader with a feeling of, ‘Gee, that looks just like it was typed with a typewriter on paper!’ In the example I’ve used, an essential component of the work’s intention is to wow the viewer into a reaction of thinking, that’s “just like” something else, the old trompe-l’œil razzle dazzle. In your comments that follow you’re conflating techniques with the issue of mimesis. I’m not talking about techniques per se. Your observation about 3D modeling seems more to the point but unfortunately I know very little about it. But this: “AI, similarly, does not only imitate traditional or digital mediums, but can also produce novel results” misses it again, because AI by definition is imitation, the masterpiece to end all masterpieces of imitation, so real, so better than the real thing, that people are ready to say, “AI won. Human artists and humankind are defeated.”

        It is the human fascination for mimesis I am talking about, the fascination, love, even preference for the made thing (however it is made—by digital means, by physical paint and brush, any manner you choose) that is “just like” the bluebird, while disregarding the actual bluebird outside the window. Please don’t take this to mean that I am saying anyone who paints a bluebird hates real bluebirds! I am talking about the one who paints the bird and is more enamored of the painting than the bird. The one who cuddles the sloth plush toy to their cheek, not caring one iota if one actual sloth exists anywhere in the wild. Not even giving a moment’s thought to the bird or the sloth, so completely immersed in our artificial environments. Surely this utter separation from the earth under our feet has helped usher in AI. Is the painting of the bird more desirable than the bird? Not to me. As if the world only existed so that we could fall in love with our copies of it.

        I could have given many other examples than the one I did. You don’t even have to go into the world of fine art. People love cakes that are decorated to look like hamburgers or castles. Not that people would prefer a cake over a castle, or that they don’t know they are eating a cake. Just that the condition is so widespread—always the desire that something be “like” something else, not simply what it is. I am of course aware that there are innumerable types of digital art, and that not all of them follow an aesthetic of mimesis, any more than every painter does it like one of Chuck Close’s photo-realistic portraits. That is not a part of my argument. Nor is the amount of work that goes into making any kind of artwork a part of my argument (after all, people may work hard to spread evil. Are they good because they work hard?). I used an example from digital art (admittedly, in retrospect, not specific enough) because, superficially at least, it is closer in form and appearance to the AI generated work you have shown here than other things are. In doing so I was not putting the entire world of digital art into one tiny box, much less lodging a campaign against it in general. I was talking about the love for mimesis, but I gave only one example, and it wasn’t specific enough. I apologize for that lack of clarity, and am trying to correct it. If that’s taking too many words I’m sorry, but apparently they’re necessary.

        As for “getting [our] just deserts”. No doubt that came off as more brutal-sounding than it needed to be. Digital artists are not the only ones to blame, we all bear the responsibility. Hopefully I have made my meaning clear. If I have then you must know there is no “insult” in my comments. I believe that our AI “art” world did not come out of nowhere. I believe that we all create our world together and all bear a measure of responsibility for it. And, by the same token, for trying to build a better world. Indeed, much of life is, or seems to be, simply imposed on us. There are all types clamoring for power and somehow a world gets hammered out. We as individuals are responsible for what we can bring to the table.

        You might argue that the fascination for mimesis is a “side issue”, but I’m inclined to think it’s one of the root causes that has brought us here. And if I have mentioned it that is only because it is something I have experience of; it is part of the measure of my own responsibility. I was once fascinated by an art that was “just like” something else. Now I’m interested in the something else. I am interested in an art that is not “like” something, but is something. And whatever it is, and however I make it, it will never be more important than the world itself.

        I appreciate your final sentence, and, “only if we can actually tell the difference” is key. That is our problem, isn’t it? The problem we all need to work on.


      4. For some reason I never saw this comment. I’m going to have to take this one apart. I’m guessing you have no idea who I am or how much of my life I’ve invested in working with digital mediums. Try to keep that in mind while I dismantle your argument that my art is automatically invalid and merely mimicry of traditional mediums. I apologize in advance for the hyperbolic excesses of my counter argument.

        You argued, “the first time a complete digital painting was constructed to look just like an oil painting on canvas. We’re just talking about one kind of digital art, not the whole world of digital art. That is an example of mimicry of an oil painting on canvas, rather a photo of one.” You are correct in surmising that AI creates an image by a process altogether unlike that by which a physical painting is produced. But your breezy conclusion that the same is true of digital painting, in which case it is a mere mimic of real art, and brought AI replacement upon itself is absolutely false and ignorant to the point of being insultingly dismissive and offensive. And you dare say this on my blog and think it’s going to go well for you? Allow me to dismantle the few half-baked notions you’ve cobbled together to come up with an all-encompassing argument against both AI AND digital art.

        You are completely ignoring the process by which the digital painting is made. It’s easier to use a digital drawing as an example here. You would argue that a digital drawing is a mimicry of a photo of a real drawing. That is not at all the case. Rather, a digital drawing is a drawing using a stylus and tablet as opposed to a pencil and paper. Your argument is like saying that a poem typed in Word is mimicry of a photograph of a poem typed on a typewriter. Why, the poem written on a computer, and read on a computer, is just mimicry of the appearance of a poem physically typed on paper. You’ve conveniently eliminated the whole writing of the poem, which is the essential and really only significant factor. You are confusing how the art is physically manifested with how it is made.

        NEWS FLASH: If you can’t draw or paint, you can’t make a passably decent digital drawing or painting. And even if you start digital, if you have the skills to make marginally good digital drawings/paintings you can do it physically as well with an afternoon’s initiation into the various tools. Think of drawing and painting as verbs rather than nouns.

        If that isn’t clear enough. For another example you argument is like saying electronic music must restrict itself to only that which analog music has not done, which means also excluding it from the history of music making, and writing music. You would have to conclude that a synthesizer impromptu solo in a jazz performance was merely mimicking the sound of a piano or organ, and therefore was not an original composition.

        “Far more desirable in my eyes are digital works that look like nothing that could be achieved by hand, however long the artist labored.” Absolutely not. You have no interest in such productions. Why not? You are trying to divorce digital painters from the tradition of painting. Again, that’s like telling a musician who uses a synthesizer that they should not play anything that would be played on an organ or piano, etc. Rather, they should use the medium only for other things. This is as heinous as telling early oil painters that they should NOT use the medium to make images of traditional subjects, but only other things. It’s a way to eliminate the competition.

        “Your observation about 3D modeling seems more to the point but unfortunately I know very little about it.” You don’t know anything about digital art, apparently.

        “Is the painting of the bird more desirable than the bird? Not to me.” This misses the point of art. Are Van Gogh’s painting of sunflowers automatically inferior to any instance of the physical flowers? Your missing that the painting both represents the subject matter, but also the human who painted it, his unique perspective, approach, identity and existence.

        You conveniently use an example of a bird, which confuses a living thing with a representation of it. Would you say that a glimpse of a building is better than an Edward Hopper painting of one? By your logic, all impressionist paintings fail because they merely mimic the effect of light on objects. And what of Yves Tanguy, who paints underwater scenes made up of curious objects and beings that don’t exist in the physical world.

        Philosophy tip. When you get a hairbrained notion in your noodle, before you decide that it defines and categorizes reality, apply it to difference examples and see if it still holds water. You can be forgiven for not doing this most rudimentary self-inquiry because even giants of contemporary art theory don’t. The very first and most obvious comparison for me is to apply any theory of art to music, where it usually instantaneously evaporates.

        You are trying to argue that AI art does not replace art because it is mere mimicry. Meanwhile you say digital artists brought this on themselves (and you are no friend of digital artists) because anything and everything they do, according to a fallacious abstract thought in your mind, is automatically disqualified as mimicking physical art.

        Your arguments about AI and digital art don’t even compute when you consider that AI can be combined with robotics to make physical works. Digital or physical is ultimately irrelevant. Similarly, ChatGPT could be combined with robotics to physically type or even write with quill and ink its messages.

        For example, you would probably agree that Jackson Pollock’s paintings are NOT mimicry. I don’t know if this means you value them infinitely above art that uses recognizable subject matter. Now, you could say that an AI created Pollock knock off is a fake, and merely imitates a photograph of Pollock’s work. This has truth in it, but AI could be combined with robotics to make physical Pollock paintings. AI can not only complete Rubic’s Cube faster than any human, specific robotic appendages have been designed to do this physically with a physical cube!

        Art is very rarely about mimicry. Only the photorealists really went in for that, and even then they conspicuously make aesthetic images in the tradition of painting. If an artist draws a picture from the imagination using a stylus and tablet, as I’ve just done myself, it isn’t mimicking anything other than the same process I’ve used with physical mediums. And I can assure you, doing both myself, that there’s no difference in terms of core meaning, content, and process.

        Meanwhile, while attempting to categorically dismiss all of digital painting as fake because mimicking physical painting, you also argued that representational physical painting is always inferior to whatever it depicts.

        But you may be one to something very important — perhaps the MOST important thing — about AI and mimicry. You just got it mixed up and ended up taking an enormous shit on digital art and analog art and artists, while patting yourself on the back for being so clever (while also faceplanting something fierce). What AI mimics is the products of human consciousness. THAT is the core issue, the most fascinating and philosophically profound. You missed completely that digital painting is entirely the product and process of human consciousness. Perhaps instead of assuming you can shut down a digital artist with one spurious and bankrupt thought, you should listen and learn.

        The real question is the role of consciousness is art, and the ability of art to express and manifest the artist’s own inner psyche, the human struggle, and the quality of being in the world. Can an imitation best us at that? And what does that signify if it can?

        The core philosophical issue and existential threat of our species in the present is artificial intelligence and the plight of biological, human intelligence rooted in consciousness. Wake the F up, as they say.

        All that said, I’m pretty sure you mean well, and you do have a genuine and valuable insight tucked in there about AI. Don’t take my tone seriously. I can be a bit assertive when making an argument as to why I’m not completely and automatically irrelevant as an artist.

        Best wishes!


  5. In your posts it seems like “art” is reduced to representation of an image. There is a lot of talk about skill and technicality and the ability to reproduce accurately. You do, as well, mention that AI can work in other styles, but the overall use of the word “art” seems to be within some scope of churning out images. Certainly this overlaps with a huge swath of artmaking, and most especially the commercial artists who are getting paid to make images for other people to use in various products.
    I think that there is a significant portion of “art” that isn’t covered by this definition and has very little to do with the “abilities” of AI to make images.
    Since the seismic artistic shifts into, through and potential “post” modernism, the creation of art has diffused into a broad range of purposes. Many of the artists who were helping to drive the modernist sense were at least partly making art for themselves. Certainly that has been the case since the beginning of the 21st century. Artists in museums and galleries around the world are trying to explore themselves and tell their own stories. It often has nothing to do with how the image, or multi-media, piece actually looks when it is done, but rather the journey and exploration that went into creating it. It is the story of humanity exploring itself through a medium.
    Perhaps AI will serve to sever one sort of commercial “image making” from the rest of “art”, much like engravers and etchers were seen less as artists with the advancement of technology.
    I would be hesitant to term AI so closely with the term “art”, and will be curious to see if our collective thinking begins to shift. If we devalue the single image, does it open up areas for us to explore the values of human creativity in other ways?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Right in a sense, in that I am talking about visual art and visual language, and primarily in a visual form. I am not talking about performance art, installations, or conceptual art, which is what my MFA education was trained on. In other words, I am well familiar with these art forms, and could make the argument myself. However, they are hybrid art forms, and often have more in common with theater than visual art. AI can’t do these things at all unless it involves robotics that allow it to act in the physical world. This is a little like saying that AI can’t go fishing. It has the intelligence to do so, but not the arms. So, in the sense you are talking about conceptual types of art, the AI in question is not visual art bots, but something more like ChatGPT, where it would come up with the idea for this kind of art, or write the blurb that goes on the wall. AI can conceive conceptual art pieces and write the justifications of the in sociopolitical terms. In fact, that requires far less computing power than making images. Savvy artists will be doing precisely this: tasking AI to come up with their next project, even about identity politics, social issues, etc.

      Just imagine that the kind of art you are talking about — let’s say a woman of color doing an installation about her identity — within the Metaverse or VR simulated universe of your choice. Now AI has everything it needs to do that sort of art in 3 dimensional space. Imagine an art show in Grand Theft Auto, even. AI can make performance, conceptual, and installation art in virtual reality. Then, if we really need to make physical versions, if robotics can’t do it, we can hire people to do it, just like artists do now. Do you think AI can’t make an Ai Wei Wei exhibition of it’s own creation in virtual reality?


      1. I agree with how you are describing the capabilities of AI, but I think I did not clearly express what I meant, so let me try another spin. The way you are describing it is all about the output. Art seems to consist of the artifact which remains and has been created: the image, the installation piece, the sculpture. AI is great at outputs to be sure, and I can even see it doing some of the “conceptual” things that you described. There is certainly an experience that the viewer brings to art, however, which affects the quality and meaning of the art. If you know an image is created by AI, or you know an artist has painstakingly crafted a prompt and curated AI created images to get just “this” image for just “this” reason, then you will certainly come with a different sense of appreciation. Not that you will like it better, but the way the art is crafted and for what purpose has so much to do with what art means, doesn’t it?

        What does it mean for a black woman to tell her story in the specific way that she is telling it as compared to an AI creating an experience with all of the same sensory elements? You yourself have written a bit about conceptual art and Duchamp and I think that there is a lot of overlap between Fountain and AI art in that sense. Can it, should it, really be called art if the intentions are dubious or very thin or simply unknowable? If an AI creates an installation shouldn’t we just consider it as accidental visual information?

        As you noted, and it is quite right to keep in mind, AI doesn’t know what it is doing. It is great at turning one kind of input into something else. For everyone who is worried about “creativity”, this is where I get confused. AI isn’t creative. It can show us combinations of things that we have never seen before and provide us with visual/auditory stimulous that we have never experienced before in combination we might not have come up with, but that isn’t being creative. It is still, and will always be, up to us to provide some kind of meaning out of that output and decide what is of value and what should inform us. Isn’t a huge part of that understanding both how, and why, it was created?

        I think a more interesting question will be: given that AI can create for us ANY image that we want (or will son), why did the artist choose THAT image? For all the crows sitting on girl’s shoulders, why choose THAT one over the other one?

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      2. Thanks for elaborating Andy. This relates to a statement that neuroscientist/philosopher Eric Hoel made in an article he published on Substack a while back. His article was provocatively titled “AI Art Isn’t Art”, or something similar, and he stated that even if an image produced by AI was identical to one produced by a human, it was not art because there was no intent behind it, the AI wasn’t expressing anything, etc. I couldn’t go along with that, though, because the end result is only different subjectively if we happen to know it as created by AI. If we don’t know, we would be sure it’s art.

        This puts us in very dangerous territory where art, regardless of what it looks like, can be judged purely by extrinsic properties and context, which is what we get with Duchamp’s urinal that you mentioned. The urinal itself is mute. It is to art what a brick with a dust jacket is to a novel. The context, hoopla, and frankly mountain of fallacious gobbledygook is what makes it significant art. And so the idea that we could have two identical images, and one could be worthless and one priceless really bothers me. It robs art completely of any intrinsic value, or ability to itself communicate. It makes all art mute, and its value completely up to whomever and for whatever reason.

        If AI designs a car and it is built entirely by robotics, and presuming that it looks and runs well, we would not say that it is not a car.

        Further, this notion doesn’t really apply because AI isn’t prompting itself. We can easily assign the intent to whomever input the prompt. The result is a collaboration.

        “What does it mean for a black woman to tell her story in the specific way that she is telling it as compared to an AI creating an experience with all of the same sensory elements?”

        I think the end result would be different. I don’t think AI could convincingly write Toni Morrison’s 12 novel. But let’s say it could, in a few years time with more upgrades. If we can’t tell whether it was a lot manuscript or if AI wrote it, then our response based on extraneous information is forced. Imagine an experiment where you are told that one poem is by Langston Hughes, and another was written by AI in his style. You might come away preferring the poem written by the real person. But it that experiment, people were randomly told the opposite of the truth, and you happened to end up rejecting the author’s work and cherishing that of AI, all because of extraneous content.

        Art has intrinsic value. Disqualifying AI art, poetry, musical compositions, etc., because they are by AI is a disservice to art and art appreciation. We have this happening already where are is being judged by the biology of the artist.

        “t have come up with, but that isn’t being creative. It is still, and will always be, up to us to provide some kind of meaning out of that output.“

        I don’t think that’s accurate. If you ask ChatGPT a question, it can give you a highly specific answer that has an explicit meaning. It can write a poem or song lyrics that have a direct meaning. Once we acknowledge that AI can product communication with obvious and incontestable meaning, the only way to get to the conclusion that AI visual art has no meaning is to rob visual art of the possibility of conveying any meaning. Quite obviously to me, the visual art produced by AI DOES have meaning, it just doesn’t issue from a human, or a conscious entity, or anything that could care about it either way.

        So, this is a philosophical quandary and a challenge/threat to consciousness. Our conscious awareness and intent is not needed to produce meaning. All that is required is raw intelligence, and AI’s data processing power is leagues beyond ours.

        But all of this only matters to us. Nothing matters to AI. It would be more accurate to say that AI has more visual intelligence than humans, but not that it is a “better artist”. I don’t know if you’ve read my argument that AI has never beat a human at playing chess. The AI isn’t “playing” chess, it’s doing something else that happens to provide superior moves. And so it is with art. The AI doesn’t wrestle with the human condition, it’s own mortality, or have to overcome hurdles to learn to render portraits, or whatever.

        I’m with you on team human, and my future prospects rest with humans being able to get in the ring with Ai and win some rounds, but I am not going to delude myself, or convince myself that AI is automatically disqualified. The proof of art needs to be in the pudding. That extra element of being conscious and having feelings needs to permeate the art. Even if that is possible, and I believe it certainly is, AI can assimilate the combinations of pixels and reproduce similar effects. For artists, and especially digital artists, we may need to be able to prove that we made our art ourselves. But with the absolute avalanche of AI art that has now flooded social media, few of us have anything like the audience to be discovered or appreciated when we are a grain of artist sand in a beach full of AI mimicry art.

        I do remain optimistic there’s a way out, and I’m a firm believer that consciousness is everything. Right now I’m addressing the problem more than any solution. I may do a follow-up post addressing some of the issues you and others brought up, with more examples from AI. Stay tuned.

        And thanks again for taking the trouble to read, analyze, ponder, and contribute to the ongoing dialogue. Rest assured that you and Eric Hoel are in agreement on this. I’m not so easily persuaded.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I really appreciate the writing you have been doing about AI as it has sparked me to do a lot more of my own research. I think that we are still talking about slightly different things, but I am going to take your last response and sit on it a while since there is such good stuff in there to digest.

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  6. I need a whole tub of ice-cream to cope with this. You’ve put into words everything I’ve been thinking since I’ve been reading about and trying out AI art. As someone new to prompting, even at my newbie level it is mind-blowing the detail I can get out of the AI. I’ve been using the AI to create images that I struggle to draw by hand, and I’m sorry to say that it kind of makes me feel as though I don’t NEED to continue trying to physically draw these things if I’ve found another way to create them, and in WAY less time than it would take me to do it. It doesn’t mean I’m giving up on my traditional skills, I just mean I have little reason to challenge myself now. So imagine a younger generation introduced to AI art before they can even spell chiaroscuro or know what it is…why would they need to learn conventional skills at all?
    The AI certainly does mess up hands, which made me very happy since I do too lol, but recently, I noticed that with longer runtimes on images, the AI can sometimes resolve the deformities. Or, if you evolve an image enough times, the hands start to form better with each new image generated. That’s terrifyingly quick. It’s taken me a good 17 years! And sometimes I still have days where AI-generated hands look better than the ones I’ve drawn. It really does seem bleak for the future of human artists. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see rainbows right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think hands are difficult for AI for some of the same reasons they are for us, which is because of all the complex perspective. One has to consider what angle the hand is at, and then all the fingers and thumb are radiating out at different angles from the hand (which is at a different trajectory from the forearm, etc), and then the fingers bend, and the perspective changes, and they bend at the next joint. They overlap as well. You get the idea. A face, in comparison, is a solid mass at one single angle.

      The lighting and modeling AI does in seconds is extremely challenging for humans to calculate. But AI is nailing it a lot of the time. Hands require move processing power, and/or time. Further, we can instantly tell if a hand is wrong, whereas AI may not put that same sort of emphasis on it. It’s just a matter of training it.

      One of the things AI is not doing right now, that I know of, is working with 3D modeling programs. We could teach AI to use Blender, in which case it could model the hands, pose and light them. You can do this on the fly with programs like Daz 3D. If people really want to crack it, AI can be taught to use any program we use, just like it can teach itself to play any computer game (we don’t even have to tell it the rules). So, it’s really just a matter of time until AI can do hands far better than we can, and virtually instantly. It already IS doing that in Daz 3D, on the fly, but just with a human telling it what to do. AI can tell it what to do, too.

      One solution is to embrace AI. However, while early AI artists had to work hard to get decent images, any clown can now churn out amazing work in seconds. Soon, we will be able to just use voice commands on the fly to tell it what to do and how to adjust whatever image we are working on. “Can you make the hands more muscular and expressive” “AFFIRMATIVE”. “Put 5 rings on the fingers” “Ding!” “Now ad a tattoo of a spider on the back of the hand.” “Ding.”

      I try to find ways to escape the reach of AI, but, anything I produce digitally via whatever route [and any physical work which is made into a photo] can be instantly uploaded into AI, by myself or anyone inclined, and then tweaked by AI, and then made into a whole series of variations. I don’t know how we can possibly beat it if it can instantly absorb anything we do.

      We will see precisely this problem with poetry. Anything you write can be uploaded to ChatGPT, and we can ask it to write another poem in your style about another topic. If you are a published poet, we can feed it your entire works, and then have it churn out new poems. It’s not that great at it yet, but give it time.

      I do not see AI writing full novels. But maybe that is only a matter of time as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yikes is all I can really say at this precise moment. I do think AI should be embraced, but the thought of it taking over is disheartening.
        Yeah, I think full novels are probably only a matter of time if AI is already learning poetry. It may take a little longer, but the monster has already been created and it doesn’t sound as though it can be stopped now.

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      2. I see it pretty much the same. Though, I’m pretty sure there’s room for all kinds of art, and someone could make seascapes in oils for hundreds of years to come as if AI never was invented, and people would like them. But for some of us artists, we need to wrestle with the challenge of AI and its implications.

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      3. I hope that’s true. It would be a shame for that to change. It’s not that I believe we’ll all have to stop being artists at any time, but I think there’s a certain mentality these days (possibly because of greater financial difficulties) that people want the glory for little to no work and – as I think we touched on on my post – it’s already sometimes difficult to get people to value the time and effort an artist puts into their work, so something like AI art has the potential to make that even more difficult. With AI art you can work in the exact style of some of your favourite artists and not only not pay them for it but have the work created in seconds AND make money by selling prints or NFTs or whatever else you want. Sorry, I don’t mean to sound like I’m disappearing into a rabbit hole of doom and gloom but I’ve seen lots of incredibly talented artists go through some stressful situations with people who don’t value their talent and feel entitled to their work. I’m a hobby artist and will draw until I drop. I also like to try new styles, different mediums, etc. so I really do enjoy AI art right now, but I’m curious about what art may look like in the future and how artists will fare.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, that’s…depressing. It used to be that I could tell the difference between A1 art and human made art; little giveaways like the fact it was terrible at eyes and hands etc. And when I say “it used to be” I mean literally a month or so back. These? Fark! I resent the hell out of how beautiful some of these images are.

    I think what angers me the most as a creative person is how technology dependence has made people not only lazy, but entitled AF. As an example of what I’m talking about, I read a comment thread recently where AI art was being discussed and debated, and one asshole was essentially saying: ” who are you artists with your many years of practice, discipline and dedication to tell ME- a person with the attention span of a flea, coupled with an absence of talent, creativity, and imagination and ethics- that I can’t feel like an artist even though I’m not one!”. When you mentioned delusional “AI Artists”, these are the types of people- and attitudes we can expect more of.

    Y’know, I’ve been accused by people many times of being “anti tech”, or even “behind the times”. And to some extend they’re right; I’m not very techy minded and never have been. But they miss the point. I’m not against tech itself, but I’m of the opinion that if we are to have advancements in technology, then it needs to be matched in advancements in ethics. But all I see is ethics taking a backseat, to the point where they’re not just on the back of the bus but have been thrown out of the window entirely. And this applies to ALL tech. I mean, I had to buy a new printer a few years ago, only to discover that I wasn’t able ( or “allowed”) to print anything directly from the internet ( like a receipt, for example) without first participating in a survey ( which wanted my name, address, etc). Um…what the fuck? What scares me more is that so many people don’t seem to think this is an issue!

    My comment is getting too long, but I do have to add that it’s so obvious to me how our increasing dependence/ addiction to tech is not only contributing to- but now actively creating so many social problems. From physical, intellectual and moral laziness all the way to increasing levels of anxiety, depression, apathy, and general life dissatisfaction. I could go into more detail, but I might have to do what one of your more sensible and restrained commenters up there did and just write a blog post about it!

    P.s. I like your long blog posts! Yes, people may have to set aside a time where they’ll HAVE the time to read, but it’s funny how a lot of people will be happy to spend 2 hours (literally) scrolling through facebook just to see 15 selfies, 30 cheesy quotes, pictures of cats, and photos of what people are making for dinner, yet baulk at the idea of having to spend a fraction of that time reading a thorough, well written article on something. I’d much prefer to devote my time to ‘Quality over Quantity’- a concept that I feel we MUST keep alive- now more than ever.

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    1. Yes, some of the people who use AI are among the biggest A-holes in art communities on social media. They don’t get it. They think that the artists them mock are backwards, antiquated, lost in the past, while they themselves are savvy and hip enough to be riding the crest of the wave of history. But they don’t realize that what they are doing with AI any other nimrod with a few bucks and a couple hours of free time can do too. This is unless they are really good, and coming at AI with a wealth of knowledge and love of visual art, and doing lots of experiments, and genuinely seeking to create something novel. However, those people wouldn’t be smug prats. The less talent or ability or understanding of art the AI user has, the more they think they are themselves a super genius, not realizing it’s all AI and they are just playing at it like playing a computer game.

      I’ve noticed that actual artists with experience are much better, in general, using AI than novice artists who can only make art with AI. Well, that WAS the case. Now AI is so good that you can just type in something like, “The best AI art piece of the year” and you might get something spectacular. I’m guessing that AI doesn’t just feed off all of the human library of art, but off of its own creations, in which case someone might put in the most rudimentary prompt and get a result very similar to one someone else crafted with dozens of hours of experimental prompting.

      I’m trying to think about the way forward for art, and in my case it’s digital. I don’t have the space to make physical art other than pen drawings, or something. I don’t think we need to abandon digital. As I mentioned in response to people’s comments about AI not being able to make a physical child’s drawing, or conceptual art such as installations or performance, AI could easily do all that in VR. We are talking about its intelligence, not its ability to navigate bodily in physical space. And so, physical art doesn’t necessarily have any advantage when it comes to intelligence and subjective content, or underlying meaning.

      I do have hope there’s a way out. Our fallibility and limitations may be part of the recipe that makes our art unique, even if AI can mimic it. I’ve said before that AI never beat a human at playing chess, because that’s not what AI was doing, not how it came up with its moves. It could defeat a human at chess, but not at playing chess. For example, AI has a flawless memory and has all of past chess games to draw examples from. It’s much more sophisticated than that, now, and may not even need to have catalogs of chess master games in its memory. But a human chess player can’t consult chess books in the middle of a game. We don’t credit a forklift with beating human power lifters because the machine isn’t doing it with muscles. And so there’s something about art, and how humans make it, that is unlike what AI does, even if the results are nearly indistinguishable. AI doesn’t base a poem on its own experience, but by measuring probabilities of word proximity, and so on. If can write a poem about the sadness about the death of the family pet cat, but it couldn’t give a flying piece of crap about the cat or the family. It’s always mimicry, even if the mimicry of a super genius alien intelligence.

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      1. The last paragraph of your comment here definitely reflects my own sentiments regarding having the teeniest spark of hope that all is not QUITE lost. As AI art ( or music, poetry; whatever) becomes more and more commonplace, not only will it all start to look and feel a bit same-y, the novelty factor just won’t be there. Nostalgia is a thing, and just as people – not ALL people, perhaps, but enough- appreciate music , writing, films, fashions- even cars from past eras, my only hope is that this nostalgic appreciation for grassroots art (and processes) will grow alongside advances in tech. ie, at some point, “old fashioned” methods will become the novelty that people become fascinated in. I have to tell myself this, anyway. I don’t want to accept that humans will become so soulless themselves that they just won’t give enough of a shit, or be even capable of recognising what “soul” or human warmth is anymore. Anyway, I will reserve the other things I have to say about THAT for another time ( or the as yet unwritten post that I have in mind).

        For now, I’m just going to create what I create in the way I enjoy, if purely for the sake of my mental health.

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      2. “For now, I’m just going to create what I create in the way I enjoy, if purely for the sake of my mental health.” Yes, absolutely. Me, too. Don’t stop because of AI.

        “at some point, “old fashioned” methods will become the novelty that people become fascinated in”. I think this is likely. I have fantasies about analog era theme parks “70’s Island!” where there’s no high tech, and you can’t bring your smart phone.

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      3. I think there’s a great divide between the digital and analogue eras, and a lot of us are going to be the only generations with one foot in each. I find myself now nostalgic about any art, music, movies produced before the digital overhaul, even though I primarily work digitally myself. And now we may see our own intelligence being eclipsed by AI in our lifetimes. This happened on our watch, so to speak, and to us. You could say it’s a privilege to be on this cusp bordering two worlds. If we live long enough we will also cross over into a Matrix-like virtual reality. Probably worth sticking around for. When there is virtual reality that we can be fully sensorily immersed in, so that we can hardly tell the difference with physical reality, that will be a phenomenal transition. It is certainly what we are trying to achieve: an alternate reality of our own creation. VR sets, then some sort of implants, and eventually total immersion. I’m drifting off here. Better get back to work. Cheers.

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      4. I agree that it’s a privilege. I just worry that some day soon we’ll no longer have the option of having one foot in/ one foot out. I’m not overly excited about VR personally ( as you know, I’m not tech minded). I’m vaguely curious, but definitely not enough to embrace total immersion. Not as a way of life. Not into any kind of digital implant. That stuff creeps me out. Some people will be into that, of course, and hey- whatever floats ya boat. But if a time comes when participating in mainstream society requires that we immerse ourselves in all that, then that’s the time I’ll be F-ing right off ( assuming we get the choice, which we probably won’t. In which case, hopefully I’m dead by then. Which I likely will be- that’s coming. So I probably shouldn’t worry).

        P.s. Don’t feel pressured to reply when you don’t have the time or energy. I might have weird routines ( especially as I live in a different time zone to you), but as a fellow human with a life, I do understand that people have an existence outside blogworld. I’m oversensitive, but not THAT oversensitive. Anyway, I realise you’re probably just trying to get all the commenting over and done with. I get that. Anyway, blah, blah. Wishing you a good day!

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  8. If your friends are telling you that your posts are too long, tell then to write their own, shorter posts. I enjoy reading your posts, no matter the length. The longer the post, the longer I get to read. This one was enjoyable, but too short.

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  9. I agree with much of what you say about AI, and the overall message is pretty depressing. But then again, here’s my little glimmer of hope for what it’s worth, and I refer back to your comments about chess because I think it’s a really good example. When Deep Blue beat Kasparov in 1997 it took the world (and especially the chess world) by storm. AI had proved itself superior to humans in the art of chess. However, humans continued to play chess and compete in tournaments.

    AI has cemented its place in the chess world; it’s used by chess players for analysis and for improving their game. It’s now an accepted part of the chess world. The same thing applies in other aspects of technology, not necessarily AI. I thought that when 3D printers came along that artists would no longer be creating sculptures because a programmed 3D printer could create sculptures just as aesthetically pleasing. This is not the case though. Even though a knitting machine can churn out knitted jumpers quickly and efficiently, there is still a market for hand knitted jumpers. It hasn’t stopped people from knitting, sewing, crocheting or selling their own knitted wares.

    So it may be with AI and art. I think there will always be people trying to pass off an AI produced creation as their own art, just like there are people playing chess online who are cheating by using a computer to make their moves for them and win. But the majority of artists create art for their own personal pleasure. Having AI create art for them will destroy the challenge and take away any personal satisfaction they might have in creating their own masterpiece.

    I think that AI and art is still at an early stage. AI will prove itself superior to humans in that it can create a masterpiece quicker and perhaps in many ways superior to that created by a human. In other words, similar to the relationship between a chess computer and a grand master. But so what? We can use that artificial intelligence to help with our own art.

    At a commercial level, AI will definitely affect artists who rely on their art commercially to make money, because AI can churn things out quicker and cheaper, just like a knitting machine or a 3D printer. For people who produce art because they enjoy doing so, I think they will continue as they are. Making art, exhibiting art, selling their own art, perhaps using AI to help them improve their art like a chess player using a chess computer to up their game…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, yes, art can always be a hobby one does on the side and can’t make a living at. Artists can indulge in such practices when they get home from the night shift at Walmart. Agreed.

      And while many chess players still bother to play, others don’t. There’s a fantastic and depressing documentary video about AlphaGo taking on the world’s #2 ranked “go” player, Lee Sedol. We witness — for those tuned in and sensitive enough to pick up on it — the human mind being crushed by AI, as AlphaGo eventually triumphs over Lee: https://youtu.be/WXuK6gekU1Y

      Subsequent to losing to AI, Lee Sedol quit playing go. His rationale was that there was an entity that humans could never beat, and in fact, the latest roll-out of the AI at the time beat AlphaGo 100 games to zero, in which case humans were without a doubt absolutely bested by AI, irrevocably. Someone made a short video about that here: https://youtu.be/PUaCQUal7rM

      I recommend you watch the full documentary to fully witness and absorb humans losing to AI.

      And there’s something else here that is critical. Lee didn’t just quit playing go because humans couldn’t hope to compete with AI. AI destroyed the game. The game, which people had thought was about much more human understanding, intuition, guile, imagination, and so on, turned out to be just about raw data processing power.

      I can relate to this because I has the exact same feeling about chess, though on a much smaller scale. I used to play the game, and was not bad, but after AI defeated the world’s best, I have not played a single game. I lost interest. I already know I can’t think ahead that many moves and make all those calculations. Once everything human is also removed as not contributing — creativity for example, is ultimately irrelevant — than I was just competing with a calculator at math, or competing with other humans at something a calculator could beat us all at. I saw that art was the one thing AI could never conquer us at. Looks like art is also largely, if not entirely, an exercise in raw intelligence. And that means that AI also threatens to kill art for us.

      Further, if AI can beat us at chess and go and every strategic game, and every computer game, as well as math, that is covering the full gamut of human intelligence — from the purely analytical to the creative — and that means that whatever your job is, AI can out perform you at it if it is trained to do so. If not AI alone, AI + robotics. It is, for example, easier for AI to do programming than it is for it to do art.

      Anyone who celebrates AI defeating humans doesn’t realize that they are themselves included. We are talking about AI being smarter than humans. That means all humans and all mental endeavors. How about your own job is just a hobby you do while living on the sidewalk?

      If tasked, for example, AI could very easily be a photographer. It has a record of all the best photos, knows how to analyze them, can take them rapid fire, instantly edit them, and tirelessly accumulate more. It can take photos in situations humans can not, because of stealth, or health concerns. It would know what to look for to find the perfect snaps that historically have appealed to people. In fact, robot animals are already taking amazing nature footage that humans could not: https://youtu.be/-SYrvedL2PI Just imagine drones flying about taking millions of pictures per day, with fantastic camera gear, immediately knowledge of all techniques, and uploading the top 100 each for public display that they have created.

      Not sure that’s uplifting or hopeful at all.

      The only real hope is that AI can beat us in the terrain of pure applied intelligence, but that in terms of creativity+content it matters that we are conscious, feeling, mortal beings, and ultimately AI can’t fake that, at least not without copying it directly from humans. Our ability to integrate knowledge with our lived experience, to share and appreciate it perhaps is a margin where AI can’t go. Sadly, it’s too late for visual art as AI has already unscrupulously been fed the entirely of human artistic achievement so that a few CEOs can laugh their way to the bank. Meanwhile, their own middling intelligences have been thoroughly eclipsed and rendered redundant. It would not be hard for AI to be trained to replace CEOs of major companies. ChatGPT could already instantly replace hordes of them just by using it to make decisions rather than them.

      Artists can, I believe, continue to innovate beyond what AI has copied from them, and what AI will do on its own. But until the law intervenes to prevent AI art bot companies from allowing people to upload anything anyone has created, AI will always have the last laugh. However, if AI art bot companies the world over respect visual artists the way they fear musicians because of record labels and the music industry’s ability to sue for copyright infringement, then artists, or at least digital artists, will be permitted to eke out some sort of existence.

      Note that it is still true that there are lots of jobs for artists and digital artists that AI can’t yet do. Those may evaporate over time.

      But, um, sorry about my tone there. I’ve heard the “hobby” argument before and it is now a known button, so to speak. Let’s say we are on board and in agreement that humans will overcome and art will persevere. I’m doing a little “devil’s advocate” here as well. I’ll be trying to come up with my own solutions, and none of this has stopped me from making art. So, thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Yes you’re right, I’m looking at it from a hobbyist perspective as that’s basically what I am. If I look at it from the viewpoint of someone trying to actively compete against AI then I agree, I’m screwed. AI will always be superior to humans because of its data processing capabilities and I can’t see the point of trying to compete with it on that basis… I think we will just have to accept the fact that AI is superior, unpleasant and depressing though it is. AI can already generate landscape and portrait images that are indistinguishable from those taken by a human with a camera but although this really got to me initially, I’ve now accepted it.

    This was an excellent thought provoking post, I really enjoy reading all your posts and the resulting discussions!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There IS hope, though, I think. It could just be valuing art that is made by humans, in the same way we still celebrate when a human powerlifter lifts an incredible weight, even if the forklift parked a few feet away could lift 10 times as much.

      But I hold out that being conscious, having feelings, and caring are essential to art, or at least the best art, and somehow that will shine through in the end.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I wonder if the age of AI will send us back to analogue one-off’s? In Da Vinci’s day, each work of art was a one-off by necessity, and even now, we value one-off-anything over factory produced copies. I can’t see that changing. What will change is how many people can afford to buy one-off’s.
    Kickstarter et al., already exist, so perhaps AI will send us back to the era of patronage. Or perhaps someone will sue the pants off the thieves who stole all those images in the first place. We can but hope.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Interesting stuff. I think the one area where AI will always come in second place, no matter how creative the commissioning keyboard user may be in their request for AI creations, is style.
    Yes, okay the commissioner can type in ‘Bosch style’ etc and get something which in some ways looks like Bosch had had his hand in it, but how is it going to produce an innovative style? What route is it going to take to reach anything that mankind has never thought of before other than some concocted combination of things which already exist and AI, therefore, can find, juggle and play with?
    I’m sure I’m wrong, probably due to my own inability imagine how AI could create a style. Is it just a matter of good keyboard input and mathematics ?
    We’ll see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It may not be possible for us to envision what a greater intelligence will come up with. Can AI innovate a style? I think it probably inadvertently has probably tens of thousands of times by now. I got some results that were not any style I was familiar with. One obvious way is that people just combine all sorts of artist and styles to see what AI comes up with, and inevitably there are surprising and unexpected results. The old AI “Deep Dream” had a unique and easily identifiable style that didn’t look like anything humans did before or subsequently.

      It would be interesting to upload all of your Tall Man series and see what AI would come up with based on them. I know at least one artist personally who does this sort of self-experimentation (and it isn’t me). Could AI make a plausible Beercock knock off? Well, fortunately not in physical paint, we know that for sure at this time. But, otherwise, it might surprise us.

      Where I think hope lies is a combination of what you and others have pointed out. It may be in the territory of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts – the integration of vision, style, technique, subject — where AI is ultimately thwarted.

      It’s smarter than us when it comes to visual intelligence. By that I mean if it were a fighter in the ring, it would have so many techniques and powers that we wouldn’t stand a chance against it, even if we had mastered some moves much better than it. However, in the realm of art, AI only has intelligence. We have other elements, the biggest one being that we are conscious at all. AI isn’t even aware it’s making art. It certainly doesn’t care.

      As someone else pointed out in the comments, everything AI does is “mimicry”. It’s faking it. And without access to human art, I think it would be much less of a threat. Because as is we are not only dealing with a digital super intelligence that composes images, but with a plagiarist who has been given access to the complete library of human-created images. We might stand a change if AI at least wasn’t allowed to continue to plagiarize, sometimes only very slightly altering a pre-existing image.

      If you imagine ChatGPT being used to tweak human poems fresh off the press you can see why this problem is nearly insurmountable. We may be able to write better poems than AI. But if someone just uploads whatever we write, and has AI tweak it, we are fighting not only AI, but AI + our own poetry or art.

      All that said, the chess and go masters also believed pretty much the same things about their calling, but were ultimately defeated by raw digital super intelligence. One way to think of it is to consider AI as unlimited intelligence. And then it seems hard to think that some magnitude of unfathomable intelligence couldn’t fake our every thought and action. Is there a limit to the reach of artificial intelligence? Well, there’s a sort of terrestrial physical limitation to what processors can be built, so I’ve heard. However, we are fast reaching the technology to produce some sort of subatomic processors?! Once that happens, then the sky is the limit.

      In the end, faced with extreme digital genius, our biggest advantage is consciousness. If AI becomes conscious, which some fools are busy trying to make happen, then, well, that’s pretty much “game over”.



  13. Mind-boggling, to say the least. It is a slippery slope and we’re too far down in it. I don’t know, maybe I’m hoping for a “counter-movement,” like how photography influenced the Impressionists. What that is (if there is going to be one) I have no idea.

    Liked by 1 person

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