RSS-Club: AI vs Art

Created: 2022-09-10 Updated: 2022-10-07

This was originally posted to my Virtual Box of Cards with the title Why AI?!. But it really belongs here instead.


First with the arrival of GPT-3 with impressive creative text, then more recently with DALL-E and Stable Diffusion for images, something has been bothering me about AI-generated art content, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

I’m certainly no luddite. I’m a computer guy! One of my favorite phrases is, "make the computer do the work!" And one of my favorite things to do is write scripts to automate boring tasks. I just love it!

But on the same day that human workers drive big machines to my house to take away my trash and deliver packages to my doorstep, my kids are in the next room laughing as they come up with phrases to type into Craiyon to see what images it generates for them. And now I think I finally figured out what’s been bothering me.

Why, of all the possible things in the whole crazy human experience, did AI have to be so damn good at creativity (and advertising, taking and keeping our attention with content) before it got really good at anything else?

So, I love programming computers, but there have always been parts of my programming jobs that are so mind-numbingly tedious and boring that it makes you want to tear out your hair. Yet they remain too unique to script away and I don’t think GitHub Copilot could do anything with them either because they’re so specific to this codebase and the customer’s needs. But I would automate that stuff in a heartbeat if I could…​to free myself up for more creative pursuits.

So it strikes me as just really messed up that humans are still doing the garbage hauling and package delivering and flipping burgers and manufacturing clothing and filling out government forms and writing tedious business logic programming, and working, working, working for the weekend, while we’ve taught the computers to make art.

Because make no mistake, the computers are making art. I’ve been doing it long enough to know that my art is "just" an incredibly complex and unique synthesis of the other art and images I’ve seen over my lifetime. Just like the AI we’re seeing now. Just like it.

Yeah, the cat’s out of the bag. All of this was inevitable anyway. It’s the order that upsets me. Why did we have to make the computers good at automating freaking art before all of the other stuff?