AI Will Liberate the Artist

Artificial intelligence has many artists and writers running for cover. We fear that this simple algorithm will spell the end of our abilities to create. Yet, if we flip the situation around, AI will liberate the artist, allowing them to freely explore.

AI Has Been Here All Long

Humans have constantly used tools to help us create. Long before the internet was even a thing, I reached for my handy Thesaurus to find that “just-perfect” word. And now I have a digital version on tap via my phone. 

Predictive text has been a feature of our phones and emails for quite some time now, yet very few of us would deliberately rephrase our sentence to avoid using the AI inserted phrase. Why, because it makes sense and saves us time. 

Science fiction writer Ted Chiang believes we have nothing to fear from AI: “We are nowhere near having real AI. What we call Al is just a tool of capitalism. I don’t fear AI; I fear capitalism.”

As human artists, we all look for inspiration in other sources. However, the idea of an AI bot scrubbing the net to soak up details on writing or art can be scary. It can model a drawing or paragraph based on someone else’s art, without giving credit to the source.

Being Obsolete is a Godsend

Having some (or even most) of our artistic functions outsourced to an AI system can feel debilitating. We feel like we are obsolete. Yet the current form of literature is already dead. Radio, movies, television and the internet have surpassed books as the go to entertainment option. 

Even movies have succumbed to long-form streaming and video games. One day, even the YouTube and TikTok influencers will look back in horror as they, too, have been replaced by some new form of media. 

Yet being obsolete has inherent benefits. Literary critic Walter Benjamin points out that once upon a time, woodcuts were the go to way of reproducing images. Once printing moved past this technology, the woodcut slipped into an art form. 

Simply look at the transformation of European and American painting after the invention of the camera. Movements like Impressionism and Cubism flourished, now freed from the necessity of creating realistic images. 

Even photography itself developed into an artform. So too, might AI art and text develop as users delve and tweak to create the most vivid artwork possible. It’s the brain behind the creativity, imbuing it with meaning, where the heart of creativity lies.

I actually tried to use an AI to help write this article. It came up with some interesting suggestions, but none that really fit the vibe of the piece. So I, as the human, sliced them away. 

Perhaps artists can slip more into the role of editor, allowing AI to create the bits and pieces of a work and allowing the artist to concentrate on the bigger picture — the gestalt. 

Until then, the very much human,

Tim Kane

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