Is there such a thing as AI art? Walter Kirn certainly doesn’t think so, and I happen to agree with him. To wit, his article for the Common Sense newsletter at Substack entitled, “There is No Such Thing as A.I. Art.”
I wrote up this comment to make directly on said post, except for some reason on Substack, publishers can choose to only allow paid members to comment. (There are many reasons why that makes sense, and also doesn’t make sense, but I’m not getting into that here.)
So, here is my open comment to Walter, who likely will never see it, but I hope that he does.
“Walter, this is a brilliant essay! I certainly agree with you that while, yes, the proportion of output to input is startling at first, in the end, the AI is only as “smart” as the inputs its programmers have been feeding it. While AI is a brilliant tool, and sometimes seems to actually write with its own mind, all it’s truly doing is working from a vast database from which an algorithm feeds from in order to spit out what it thinks it’s being instructed to say or create.
I’ve noticed many commenters lamenting that the AI creations we are witnessing mean the end of human art; but, I definitely agree with you that human art is far from dead. As you make very clear in your essay, AI does not take risks; it just does what it’s programmed to do. Perhaps one day in the future, perhaps sooner than any of us may want to admit, some forms of artificial intelligence may somehow gain a sort of self-awareness. I do think that those that already appear to be somewhat self-aware are simply programmed to give this facade; I don’t think there is yet a truly sentient AI on this earth, but for all I know we could all be in the clutches of a clever AI working behind the scenes!
All kidding aside, while the examples you showed in your article are certainly impressive, and I do actually consider them art, I do entirely agree that it is not “AI Art.” Rather, I feel that there is still very much human creativity involved; the very crafting of the algorithms and data-scraping scripts necessarily to achieve such feats are in themselves incredible and willful acts of human creativity. It is the programmers who are taking the same risks as classical artists; it’s just that they have technologies that Renaissance painters couldn’t have ever dreamed of having access to in their wildest dreams.
What scares me more about AI is just how good it’s gotten at copywriting. Now, having tested many AI writing tools in my time, they’re certainly improving and are great at producing some surprising prose. However, AI isn’t perfect, especially if it’s not well-versed in niche topics, so there will always need to be human writers to make the outputs into something that actually sounds good and personable.
If there’s anything I actually am concerned about when it comes to AI from a wider societal aspect, it’s how AI is going to very obviously disrupt the fashion industry. Who’s going to need fashion models when you can just generate them from exacting specifications? Talk about a bad way of pushing specific body types and looks that aren’t natural!
The day that AI’s start taking risks on their own, that’s the day I’ll be concerned about them taking over and dehumanizing society. Until then, AI’s seem very much under the control of imaginative data scientists and art as human art is far from dead, and should remain that way forever. If AI does one day become sentient, and it creates art, then we may have a problem…”
What do you think of AI art? Do you think the works of AI will one day threaten human creativity?