My default setting for new tech used to be “No – it’s a fad.”
My husband always reminds me of what I said in 1998 about internet shopping.
“It’ll never catch on. Who’s going to give their credit card details over the worldwide web? And people need to touch and see things before they buy.”
Ahhh how we laugh!
Which is why the AI conversation has caught my attention. Artificial Intelligence has been around for a while, but since November when ChatGPT burst onto the scene, everyone’s talking about AI.
Including the creative communities, with Midjourney or Stable Diffusion to name a couple of open-source image generators.
Creatives, don’t be afraid of AI. Don’t dismiss it as the dehumanising of your craft and thief of jobs. Or even plagiarism.
AI is a tool. A tool that will spawn new job opportunities, new solutions to old problems, new ways to experience being human.
Just like the internet is a tool which was once viewed with suspicion and derision. Today, we can’t imagine a world without it.
It was the same when tractors were introduced into farming, weaving machinery in the Industrial Revolution, the invention of photography, or even the Gutenberg press back in 1450…all deemed to make human effort, work, truth, power and creativity obsolete or somehow trashed.
And Canva 😬 Remember, not so long ago, creatives panicked about the democratisation of design. Who would need a designer anymore when everyone’s got Canva?
I think we can all agree that access to tools does not mean mastery of tools.
My AI Art Class
Last week, I took an AI art class. It was unlike anything I’d done before, obviously! I approached it with excitement and curiosity. With a beginner’s mind.
I wanted to create 2 images: a moody seascape and an abstract illustration of imagination.
Below are the final images. Each image took 45 minutes to create. Tweaking, prompting, searching, editing….it’s not just a case of writing a few words and Voila; behold the masterpiece.
It’s trickier than you imagine. To get to these rudimentary images, I had to draw on my art history knowledge, my experience of art techniques & terminology. My vocabulary was tested too. If I had wanted to develop these images further, I would have had to transfer them to Photoshop or Procreate.
It takes creative mental gymnastics and an encyclopedic knowledge of visual references to produce AI art. Plus a skillset in existing digital art. Very human, after all.
There is no denying that this is a problem that needs to be addressed. Many creatives have seen bits of their art, or even mashed up versions of their signatures, on AI art.
The ethics of AI and a legal framework around it needs to be addressed. As with all new things.
What we must never forget, is that plagiarism and inspiration have always walked a fine line together. It’s not new – which is why the law and ethical frameworks need to keep up with technology. It’s hard because it moves so fast, and the law is a lumbering creature!
I wonder if they will invent a type of blocker, a code, that an artist or creator could add to their work to prevent the AI scraping the info? Like a digital, coded watermark.
Maybe there could be a way for artists to opt into AI and get paid royalties for allowing AI to reference their work.
Various creative communities have started anti-AI movements, banning AI-generated work. There’s even a hashtag. They want to protect creativity and creative careers; to protect things made by people not robots.
In many ways I agree with some of the backlash.
However, creative careers and creativity will always be around. Hand-made things, art made by actual humans, will be even more valuable!
Our children & our grandchildren will have jobs spawned by AI that don’t exist yet.
Agreed, we need to address the emerging legal and moral implications, as we have had to do with all new developments throughout the course of civilisation.
Overall, there is a place for both. And it’s the discernment of what’s appropriate or allowed in various contexts that we’ll have to sort out. So, absolutely AI will be banned in some places, which is fair enough.
The Anti-Human Agenda
There is a real and valid fear that we are hurtling towards a dystopian world, controlled by centralisation, homogenisation and a lack of personal freedom or choice. That tech is taking over and the survival of our species is under threat. And in some way, I fear this too.
I read Homo Deus by Dr Yuval Harari, written some years ago, and he mentions that human evolution is not done – we are not at the apex yet. He theorises that we are already in the stages of the android as part of human evolution. It’s just external right now in the form of our smart phones and wearable technology. Stuff that we all have. Even those against AI have some kind of AI in their lives. It’s inevitable.
The anti-human agenda could be attributed to so much in the past that we now take for granted – washing machines, for example. Household gadgets were regarded with mistrust and the erosion of proper housekeeping etc. Tractors were derided for being anti-horse and against traditional farming practices. History is littered with the mistrust and rejection of machinery and technology.
Who really wants to go back to hand-washing clothes and dragging a plough behind a horse? 😃
My final thoughts
AI is here to stay, whether we like it or not. We just have to be IN the arena to ensure we have a voice and a say in how it’s used.
We have a duty to educate ourselves. And then it’s up to us to decide whether to embrace it or not. Whether it’s necessary for us personally or not.
But don’t be afraid that creativity is over; that robots have taken over and automated everything 🤖
Professional, creative humans are still needed. And always will be, in some form or another. We just don’t know how things will progress.
🤩 We are on the cusp of a revolution inside a revolution 🤩
And I’m excited and nervous. I’ll be watching this space with interest as it evolves. One thing I don’t want to be is a Luddite. Neither do I want to be left behind in life. I have decades left hopefully, and I fully intend to live in the contemporary world.
There is ALWAYS good that emerges from new things, we just have to be open to finding them. I choose optimism.
I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts and experiences. I want to learn as much as possible and get a broader understanding of AI.
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