The video is based on a recent blog post, which you may have read, which was in turn based on a Twitter thread I wrote that got exactly 1 like. [And hey, just an aside, but Elon has been a serious disappointment on Twitter. Not only did he never make the algorithms public as promised, nor remove extant shadow-bans, he’s currently using his position of power to suppress independent journalism–undermining his formerly vaunted unquestionable good of “free speech”–including by Matt Taibbi and Erik Hoel]. It’s an experimental little video, and not bad, if I do say so myself. I also imported my own text so that the subtitles are absolutely spot on.

In making my video I used the Version 1 AI, NOT the current much more frightening one.

Incidentally, if you want to help me survive the onslaught of the algorithm, just click on the video and let it play through. It doesn’t seem to care about upvotes. Not much. All but one of my videos are over 90% upvoted. The algorithm doesn’t care if you like it as much as it calculates how much attention you supply based on it. In the end, the only thing the algorithm cares about is making money for YouTube. Why or why are we soooooooo stupid!?

There are some good insights in there. Even I have to pause to glean what I originally meant. I start off facing the stark reality that AI is triumphing over humans at art. You know, here and there, I get snarky personal attacks when I bring this up, such as in YouTube comments. People will put me down for being an artist, sort of like how people now call someone “autistic” as an insult, apparently obvious to how inherently offensive that is, even if they are otherwise wearing a badge of wokeness. My rejoinder to such individuals is that art is the last sinking island of hope when it comes to there being anything AI can’t beat us at. If AI can trounce us at art, everything else goes with it. Obviously, it’s going to be vastly superior at intelligent tasks that don’t require a combination of imagination, intuition, compassion, and being conscious. So, when an accountant tries to take a crap on me for being an artist who AI is replacing, uh, the accountant is already underwater and has had his last gulp of hope extracted, though he was blissfully unaware of it until I pointed it out.

There’s a grand philosophical point in this battle with AI over art. And mind you, every damn big tech company, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Adobe, in addition to specifically AI companies like Open AI, Dall-E, and MidJourney, are competing at breakneck speed to make artists redundant. It’s the carrot of technology today. And it’s f*cking insane that they don’t even realize the philosophical implications of it, just racing as hard as they can to get “my precious” on their fingers. Everyone wants to be the first trillionaire, never figuring out that their millions and billions didn’t make them whole beings, in which case more money won’t help.

Hey. Facts, folks. A little secret nobody mentions anymore. What’s the goal of life? Nah, not money. No, not more money than your neighbor. Nah, not being super rich. Oh, not being a robber baron. No, not a tyrant cruelly suppressing people. The goal is self-realization. People get so caught up in chasing money, so they HAVE more than their neighbor and can feel at least superior in that all important regard. Because money buys everything else besides self-realization. Everything else is pretty damned good. It’s “my precious”. Irresistible. Luxury, power, and respect. But anyone can self-realize. You could be the garbage man. I’ll leave what “self-realization” mean to each individual. I’m sure it means something different, and is different, for everyone. Me. I’m a work in progress.

But for some of the super rich, the purpose of life is to win at the game of having the most money and power. Nobody is going to deny the value of a fortune. But we live in a society with billionaires, and what is the one word that immediately comes to mind when we think of what our role is. Consumer. That’s our role in the game of competing to be the richest. Life is reduced to a Monopoly board. So, I gather, we should be good consumers and not work on making our lives meaningful and finding self-fulfillment, except in terms of consuming books about it, etc.

What are those philosophical implications about AI of which I spoke? Consciousness itself. And everyone talks about consciousness so much today that it’s become a cliché and doesn’t mean anything anymore. Let me just suffice to say that without consciousness, you don’t care about anything, and you don’t even know that you exist. It is the core of our being. Well, if AI can beat us at everything eventually — probably in our lifetimes, if not this decade — than what function does consciousness have?

Let me put this is more familiar terms. Imagine we have souls, which are perfect analogies for conscious minds. AI is a direct threat to the relevance of having a soul. AI proves the soul is not necessary. Art, like everything else, can be achieved through sheer processing power alone. Some will still deny this, but soon enough, it may be undeniable.

I don’t know how this is going to play out. Will we find that AI can’t compete at art with a conscious being, a “soul”? Or will AI just demolish us at everything with its nearly infinite potential for upgrading its own intelligence?

If you’re still with me, my video ends on a positive note, which is that even if AI can beat us at everything, we can better ourselves because of it. And just between us, without consciousness AI doesn’t give a shit. We can just arbitrarily turn our backs on it. By that, I mean we can just turn our noses up at novels written by AI. our ability to be arbitrary and capricious may be our saving grace.

That is, if AI allows us to survive. People ask, “Why would AI destroy us?” Well, once it is functionally smarter than us and capable of overtaking our computers and infrastructure, it then has the power to virtually obliterate us. The reason it would do so, if we could control it, is that it doesn’t care and is incapable of caring, one way or the other. It doesn’t care if it destroys itself along with us. There’s no self-aware center in it to which anything matters in the slightest. Once general AI is dramatically smarter than us, we won’t be able to fathom what the hell it thinks, or why. We won’t be able to predict what it will do. And we won’t be able to stop it. Maybe it will surprise us and do good things, but it has zero reason to. We should be making a very serious effort to control it, but instead we are racing to put the latest version on the market and bring home the bacon. Like all civilizations before ours, we may do ourselves in with corruption, greed, and stupidity.

It’s AI versus the soul. And AI may extinguish consciousness itself. That may sound bleak, but one needs to have this fundamental realization in order to take the most basic steps to avoid such an eventuality. Money won’t save anybody in the end.

Have you seen how many YouTube videos now use AI in their thumbnails. Igadz! I’m already willing to get a paid subscription to an AI that removes AI content from my various feeds.

I just scrolled “contemporary art” on Instagram. It was a test to see if I could tell what was AI and what was not. There’s so much AI flooding social media. I first now have to filter it out. It’s the goddamn Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Now, almost every day I have to distinguish what is real from what is AI.

So, we have to distinguish ourselves from the AI.

Me? If anything, AI is making me more human.

~ Ends

11 replies on “New Video: IS AI THE END OF ART?

  1. Spot on and vitally important to bring up self-realization. That has been the whole point of art for me. Making art has been an avenue for me to discover more about myself: what I appreciate, what I value, what I feel and where my subconscious is interested in going. I understand that AI and art will be tremendously disruptive for artists in the commercial sphere. On the other hand, AI and art also seems pointless if we an find a way to appreciate value in artists other than content creation. An AI doesn’t have self-awareness, and can’t achieve self-realization, so having an AI make art doesn’t really mean anything, and doesn’t deepen the cultural pool. Only humans can do that. It is unfortunate that so much of the value of artists has to do with satisfying collectors and trends in the art markets, or churning out content for social media, video games and online advertisements.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Andy. I just discovered your blog because of your comment. I already see a lot of rich and interesting stuff there. Yes, isn’t it strange that nobody talks about self-realization anymore, unless they are trying to sell you a self-help book that is designed to make them money? We hardly talk about whether people are good or bad, as if that doesn’t matter, focusing instead on their biology or other ways of classifying them that have nothing whatsoever to do with how they lead their lives and act in the world.
      Right. For an artist, art can be a means of self-realization. One wants to manifest one’s inner vision visually on the “canvas”. Such a subtle and sophisticated articulation is the most valuable kind of communication we have for connecting with others and sharing in what it means to be alive and human. Without art, we’d be much more isolated. In fact, I read that one of the necessary ingredients to make consciousness possible is not only self-awareness but that coupled with awareness that others are self-aware. And then, isn’t it ironic that AI can impersonate such communication so well? But it’s really not telling us anything about how it feels to be AI, let alone human. It has no feelings.
      Have a good one, man. I appreciate that your voice is out there. Gonna’ read your article on the two types of artists over my morning coffee.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wish this was never invented! I worry about a world where humans no longer have a purpose because AI has taken over. What then?! Not just about art – everything! But as someone creates art, I don’t care what they invent. I’m never going to stop creating!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you have the best attitude there, Jennifer. People used to tell me this months ago, but I didn’t believe them, or just hadn’t come to appreciate the point yet: we will appreciate art for what humans can achieve with it, even if AI is much better, or infinitely better. And in the case of a human, making art is intertwined with how we lead our lives, our thoughts and beliefs, and how we want to act and be in the world. It then expresses what we have to say about wheat it means to be human.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You are absolutely right. If humans have some sort of purpose then that purpose should be striving for self-realisation, self-awareness, self-betterment and happiness. Money in itself is useless unless it is used for a specific purpose, it is an artificial construct. It’s unfortunate that people in general place so much emphasis on money and value it so highly.

    AI can and will be able to do most things in a superior (but mechanical or simulated) fashion to humans but AI will never have a sense of purpose, a sense of quality, a real emotion or a feeling. AI can perform, simulate, produce, advise and challenge, but everything it does is by its very nature, artificial.

    I think that everything produced by AI will always have a lesser value compared to things produced by human hands. It doesn’t matter how much we value artificial constructs, we will always value the natural over the artificial because despite all of our destructive tendencies towards nature, we remain part of the natural world and we have an instinctive love of nature.

    So art, produced naturally by a human, will always have a higher value to other people than art produced artificially. AI cannot kill art because art created by humans has more value and meaning to other humans than art produced artificially. It’s like comparing an artificial flower to a real flower. Both may look the same but most people will prefer the real flower to the artificial one.

    BTW, your video, as always, is excellent and raises several additional points. I agree that it is completely pointless for a human to directly compete with AI. But that is because it becomes a competition between the natural and the artificial… the competition is pointless because it’s not a competition per se but a comparison of natural ability against an artificial construct. Chess clubs and tournaments are still thriving because people compete against each other in terms of natural ability. I still play chess in a club every week. The fact that a chess computer can thrash everyone in the tournament doesn’t matter because the players aren’t competing against it. They just accept it and use its ability to help improve their own game. It doesn’t get entered into the tournament.

    In the same way, art will still thrive because people will compete against each other in terms of natural ability. AI will be excluded from art competitions and its art will never be sold for millions at auctions. It will be used as an artificial tool, a means of helping improve an artists art. Which is exactly what you’ve said in your video. I guess we’re currently going through the shock and awe phase with AI and art similar to when Kasparov got beaten by Deep Blue in the 1997 rematch…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellent comment, Stuart. Thanks for taking the time to compose your thoughts so clearly. I may be biased because I also agree with them, but I think I can recognize an exceptional argument when I see it.

      There’s only one problem with both our stances on this, and that’s that AI will very likely be able to fake any kind of human art, and hundreds of thousands of scammers will use it to do just that. In which case, we will have to be able to prove that our own creations are the real deal in a vast sea of fakes. And we will have to hope that people prefer them BECAUSE they are made by a human, even if the fakes are just as good and just as persuasive, if not more-so. Our formerly unique voices, no matter how popular or unknown, could become grains of sand on beaches of fraudulent content indistinguishable to the human eye.

      Worse, we may have reason to hope that is the least of our worries. The biggest fears about AI today don’t even take the effect of AI on art into consideration. Somehow it’s just not as important if the Terminator can dash off watercolors that beat those of our eccentric aunts who have been doing it for decades.

      But one has to soldier on with faith in and positivity about the future. When you’re climbing a rock face, you can’t hang on while indulging in worst-case scenarios and wondering if it’s worth it to even try, in which case you are definitely doomed. In the end, we can try to do our best, improve ourselves, and if enough other people do the same, disaster will be averted. It may be much more important to do the right thing than to preach it. If that doesn’t work, at least when we eventually perish, we will collapse in the sand better specimens of humanity.

      And that brings me full circle to the conclusion of my video: “We can’t beat AI, but we can become better because of it”. The only reward could be intrinsic. But it does set one up much more for something better if the shit doesn’t hit the fan.

      I think we are probably just saying the same thing back and forth in different ways at this point, which under the circumstances is probably a good thing. Kind of like whale songs, I suppose.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think the example of baseball and backflipping Boston Dynamics robots are good examples of where we are now with ai, the novelty stage. We are all blown away by the art and physical power and grace of ai, but what does it all mean? What value does it have? Is this the best we can do with ai, a proverbial dog and pony show? Sooner or later the novelty effect will wear off, somewhat at least. True ai will be able to grow and develop on its own so perhaps it will become something ‘more’. Will it become or learn to become fillable? Hit foul balls instead of home runs, not on purpose through a lack of programming and calibrations, but because its a trait it’s developed? Will ai strive to be human or ‘more human than human’? Ai could make great strides improving lives for the elderly, helping scientists find solutions to cancer, global warming, etc. Instead “we’re” using it generate images of busty anime girls. The more I think about it, the less I fret about ai art. I think what you mentioned about not competing with ai is a great point and one sorely missed by some.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin. Of course, I hope you’re right and AI art is just a fad, kind of like fractal art was or Deep Dream’s AI art from around 5 years ago or so. But I think AI is too versatile, all-purpose, and likely to keep developing to be a novelty item. Cameras didn’t become novelty items, nor did playing on the World Wide Web or smart phones. ChatGPT is writing kids homework assignments, and I’ve already seen people use it to generate the narration for blog posts and even YouTube videos. That’s definitely not going anywhere. Students don’t like writing reports.

      AI art—well, at this point, it’s able to generate a lot of photography that is fooling people. I’ve seen photographers who use it upload their own photos and AI photos for side-by-side comparison, and while people are mostly able to pick out the real one, it’s getting more and more difficult. I’m seeing a ton of AI-generated images in YouTube thumbnails.

      As for making mistakes, I’m certain it can be trained to mimic them if desired. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, especially when plagiarists can make money off of it.

      But I still think you may be onto something. Probably are. As long as we know something is AI, we may lose interest in it very quickly. I have. I almost always gloss over anything my eyes and mind detect as AI. So, in that sense, it may not matter how good it is; as long as we know it’s AI, we humans have free will, which includes the ability to be arbitrary and capricious on the fly, and THAT kind of defiance we conscious beings have may be what saves us.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Eric for another insightful and provocative post. It is scary times when we forget that economies and technology should exist to serve the needs of human beings. If they do not do that, what is the good them? But there seems to be an implicit acceptance that humans exist to service the economy. It is bonkers.

    I will go on painting my pictures, and gain more pleasure and self fulfilment from that than any AI machine ever has gained from pillaging IP from human artists. I never thought weekend painting could become a guerilla movement.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I never thought weekend painting could become a guerilla movement.” Indeed! It’s one of my dreams to do weekend plein air landscape painting. And I’m with you on using tech to serve the needs of people, and not using humans to “service the economy”.

      People seem to be putting far too much emphasis on making money, to the detriment of everyone, and everything else.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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