An AI-generated image won an art challenge: Ask me anything.

Is art over?


With AI, will art no longer require skill, rendering it meaningless?

People worried that art would no longer require skill when digital tools were first invented. They worried the same thing with the invention of the camera. Art isn’t dead now and it’s not heading to the grave. 

Two subpoints here: one, the skill art requires hasn’t died, it has changed. Two, skill-less art is just beauty, which has its own value.

These machines can create beautiful things, but can they create exactly the contents of the artist’s imagination? No. The artist needs to try several ways to describe their query before they get the image they want. If the artist gets the image she wants, will it always connect with people and create that elusive sense of beauty? No. Using the tool still takes skill and artistic vision remains ineffable.

Have you looked at a sunrise? A mountain? A tadpole just sprouting legs to become a frog? Do you think about the hard work that a human put in to make those things happen? No? 

You might think about the complexity behind these phenomena, but a human doesn’t have to be involved. Will people one day marvel at the incomprehensibly complex machines that create the art they consume? Maybe.

These AIs are trained on pictures that other people made. Does that make their art plagiarism?

If you look at hundreds of Rembrandt’s paintings and then, inspired, paint your own original work in his style, are you plagiarizing him?

What if you’re capable of reproducing Rembrandt’s style pretty well and can make art for people so fast that you can make a living doing it for free and selling ads? What if “Rembrandt” is still alive and trying to make a living off of this style that he invented and popularized?

Currently you can’t copyright a style, but will that be revisited in the future? That’s a question I can’t answer.

Will AIs make art repetitive and cookie-cutter?

Good news! This has already happened. Corporate art is risk averse and repetitive. It’s why alternative art thrives. Corporate art learns from the alternative and independent scenes and grows, forcing alternative artists to innovate further.

Anywhere AI is limited, human art will thrive. Human art will get boxed out only as AI art gets better. As a consumer of art, this will only increase your options.

With AI, will artists be put out of jobs?

Yes. How soon, I can’t say. Technology has changed the skills demanded in the labor market for generations. It’s not going to stop. Here in the US and in most of the world we tie human value to economic contribution, but one day demand for human labor may be so low that only a tiny fraction can contribute anything to the economy. How can we distribute resources when the vast majority of people have nothing to offer that the economy wants? We may have to answer this question sooner than we think.

Okay, but what about cat videos?

When they make an AI that generates cat videos, you will have unlimited custom cat videos.


I’m glad you’re happy

I take requests. If you have a fictional AI and wonder how it could work, or any other topic you’d like to see me cover, mention it in the comments or on my Facebook page.

By Sam Munk

Science fiction and Fantasy author with a focus on philosophical inquiry and character-driven drama.

1 comment

  1. Thank you, Sam. Much appreciated. I even feel better about how little I contribute to GDP, knowing that you all will be joining me soon.

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