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Suggesting That Machines Are Artists Devalues Art and Humanity

What it Says About Us That We Believe a Machine is Capable of Creating Art

By Everyday JunglistPublished 2 years ago 4 min read
Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay. You can’t spell artificial intelligence without art

A recent article (linked below) described the apparent “gold rush” that is on in the art world to acquire the latest “AI created work of art.”

The AI-Art Gold Rush Is Here . An artificial-intelligence “artist” got a solo show at a Chelsea gallery. Will it reinvent art, or destroy it?

If one actually reads the piece it becomes clear very quickly that no work of art was actually created by an AI, and that human intervention was required throughout the process. However, despite that early admission it goes on to say that a machine learning algorithm “did most of the work”, and taken together with the article title it leaves the impression that there exist machines/computers today fully capable of conceiving of and creating art without human assistance. After all how could an AI possibly have a “solo” show if it weren’t working alone?

What does it mean to say a machine learning algorithm “did most of the work?” Leaving aside the fact that machines cannot learn, that the term itself is a logical contradiction, that if a machine could learn it would no longer be a machine, what is the “work” in creating a painting? Is it the determination of what is to be painted, the selection of the style to use, the type of paint and brush? or is it in the act of creation itself, of combining all those things together into a final form (in the mind) and then translating that to canvas in the form of a finished painted work, or is it some or all or none of those things? It doesn’t really matter because in any case to suggest a machine is capable of doing them in the absence of human intervention is badly misguided. There is no such thing as AI created art and maybe never can be. In order for an AI to create a work of art, an AI must exist. That is still not the case today and it is no sure thing that it will/can happen in the next 500 years or so. What we have today is nothing more then the evolution of modern computing. Modern computers were used to create art in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000’s and they are being used to create art today. I think that’s great and a credit to the artists have have used the technology available of their time. Never has a computer or machine conceived of and completed a work of art without the significant intervention of man in the process. This is still the fact of the matter today, and does not appear to be on the cusp of changing anytime soon.

Given all that I think a more important question to ask is what it says about us that we believe a machine is capable of creating art? To me it suggests only two possibilities. The first possibility is that as a species humans actually find very little value in art. If we did not really value art it would be no big deal to suggest machines can be artists (even if they couldn’t or wouldn’t) because the stakes would be so much lower. However, all of the available historical and present day evidence suggests we put a very high value on art and have from the very beginning of mankind.

Since the first possibility seems so implausible we must accept the second which is that we put our own value as humans on par or less then the value we put in a machine, the value we attribute to a computer. The great irony is that the higher and higher the dollar value we place on these works the lower and lower the value of humanity becomes. To those out there paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for these works I say, thank you sir or madam, you are finally showing exactly what you think of everyone on this planet (besides yourselves). Of course our more fortunate cousins in the high end art market most likely do not give a whit about any of this. They see money to be made and prestige to be gained. My sincere hope is that their view of humanity is not as widely shared as I fear it may be. Damn, I sure as hell hope not.

Author's disclaimer: Publication of my works on Vocal.media do not represent in any way an endorsement of their outrageous and unjust censorship policies. I do not support those policies and in fact find them absurd, abhorrent, and an affront to free societies everywhere. Thank you for reading my works here, but know they are published under conditions in which freedom of expression is being muzzled. Therefore, any works of mine you read in these pages will not reflect the full range of my interests and certain topics will be by necessity greatly minimized or entirely absent. Please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of the editors and moderators of Vocal. Since they won't do it for themselves I will do it for them. Find original article describing my position in detail here.

artificial intelligence

About the Creator

Everyday Junglist

Practicing mage of the natural sciences (Ph.D. micro/mol bio), Thought middle manager, Everyday Junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, No tie shoelace user, Humorist, Argan oil aficionado. Occasional LinkedIn & Facebook user

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