What Does Artificial Intelligence Mean for the Creative Industry? was originally published on Firsthand.
Humans are constantly making new technological advances, many of which are intended to improve our everyday lives. Nowadays artificial intelligence is all the rage, with companies such as OpenAI developing products that are capable of interacting with humans on a creative level. That’s right, you can go type in some words and an AI program will create an image or a story with the click of a button. This all sounds good and well, but what does it mean for people in the creative industry? Let’s take a look at what we know so far.
Defining art isn’t an easy task. In the most basic terms, art is an expression that is created through the application of a particular skill, often along with some sort of tool such as a paint brush or a pencil. Art can be a painting, a sculpture, written words, a feature film; it can even be stick figures on the pages of a notebook. The artist creates their work in order to express thoughts or feelings, and the viewer or viewers of a work of art are free to interpret it in their own way. When a work of art inspires others, they might go and create their own expressions. Looking at it this way, art is a process.
The magic of art is taking experiences and feelings, and turning them into something that people can relate to on a certain level, or perhaps on multiple levels all at once. This is only possible because as humans, we all share similar experiences such as happiness and sadness, while simultaneously living totally unique lives. The human experience is something we all have in common, regardless of geographical location, culture, belief system, or any other aspects of ourselves that we consider to be the makeup of our own individual identity.
With all that said, can something created by artificial intelligence be considered art? According to the 2022 Colorado State Fair, it can. A contestant in the digital art category submitted a work that was created through the use of an AI program known as Midjourney, and to the chagrin of the other contestants, this particular work took home first prize. Technically, the winner didn’t break any rules, but this raises some major ethical questions. Do we want to live in a society where someone can type a few words into an AI program and be considered a successful visual artist? Is that same string of words considered art itself?
For those who make a living through their art, programs such as ChatGPT and DALL-E are not only raising questions of ethics, they’re raising concerns about where the creative industry is headed. Could we be on the way to fully-automated creative teams where a single employee feeds prompts into an AI program? Let’s explore this idea for a bit. Compared to a human employee, an AI program might be preferable to certain employers because the AI won’t complain, it will do only exactly as it is told, it will never get sick or call out from work, and it doesn’t require pay or benefits. Indeed, this is a scary prospect.
Now, let’s deal with the counterpoint. There are many aspects of our humanity that go into creating art; none of which can be replicated by AI. Going back to our talk about the human experience, we all feel emotions such as happiness, sadness, grief, and anger, among others. These emotions are necessary to create art, and as the emotions go into the work, the work itself evokes emotion in the viewer. Perhaps most importantly is that humans are capable of love. Love can lead to feelings of elation, as well as feelings of great pain. It has been said that an artist’s best work is done during times of great pain and suffering; an AI program can never experience the power or the burden of these feelings. It cannot relate to humans on that deep level; the level of the shared human experience. AI will never be sympathetic to the human condition or its related experiences and plights. AI can never look back on its own work and interpret it differently over time. AI cannot observe art on a deep, human level. These are the components of creating and experiencing great art.
So, what does all of this mean exactly? Well, AI programs could have a negative impact on professional artists, there’s no sugarcoating it; however, AI can never truly replicate the human touch when it comes to creating art. Perhaps certain jobs will change—not only will professional artists draft and publish art, they might be responsible for operating AI programs to generate additional digital art. Further, there might be a whole new job that’s solely responsible for operating AI programs such as ChatGPT and Dall-E. Here, the individual might have special expertise in knowing how to word prompts in such a way as to get the best possible outcome from AI programs.
When it comes to the implementation of AI in the creative industry, it’s impossible to accurately predict the outcome. The use of AI will no doubt change our way of life, but we don’t know whether it will be mostly good, mostly bad, or somewhere in the middle; we only know that it is here to stay. As humans, we must practice responsibility when operating AI systems—we all know the clever joke about Skynet becoming a reality, but is it so far off from the truth? Could AI make humans obsolete? In the coming weeks we’ll be exploring the use of AI in various industries, as well as its implications for students, so be sure to check for updates.