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The AI Problem

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Jan. 21, 2023

The advent of AI has started to finally come into the field of art and expression. No longer is it there only to help us with the menial tasks, the repetitive stuff, the uninspired stuff so we, humans, can be freed up to engage in the intuitive expression of any kind of art, any kind of craft, and even any kind of academic endeavor.

Now, you can ask AI to draw you something, to write you something, to design you something, to write your paper and to be …creative for you. From Midjourney and Stable Diffusion to ChatGPT, the artistic world is shaken with the disruption that is quick, cheap, and massive production of disposable art. Art that normally would be made by humans, and paid for, can now be made by machines for free. Ok, it won't be perfect, but it doesn't have to be. Not for a lot of things, from blog post illustrations to cheap games that are bound to flood the internet, a general ‘highly rendered’ image of what is needed will suffice even if it has some weird proportions, six fingers, or too many teeth.

It doesn't stop there. Take the girls in the picture of this article. They're your standard kpop group right?

Not really.

This is a photo from the girl band Eternity, which is a completely AI generated kpop band: every girl is a virtual character, they aren't humans that actually exist. Their voices, their personalities, their moves, everything is fiction and they're moved by what is essentially puppeteers- unnamed, unknown dancers and singers that lend their moves and their talent to this glorified VR ‘skin’.

Disruptive tech has always caused tremendous change in the world, throughout history. So what we're going through now with AI isn't new. And because it isn't new, we can make educated guesses that it will cause artists' jobs to go extinct, change the parameters of what jobs do survive, create new jobs, and change the way the world thinks about art and artistic expression.

It will also be interesting to see how the academic community will handle AI generated papers being handed in instead of being written by the students- what about journals? It's a given that researchers won't have much of a problem to ask AI to write out their papers for them even if they feed it their findings. Will that be okay, too? Who knows. We'll see.

Is that the problem with AI?

I'd say it is but also it isn't. If AI in art fields were used to be a time saver for artists, to help them make deadlines or produce more art in the same amount of time, then perhaps AI is a useful tool every working artist needs to learn to use.

But it's not that, is it? That was never the goal of AI in art, from visual arts to movies and showbusiness.

The goal is to eliminate the human condition: the pesky need to cater to human rights, such as health benefits, normal working hours, protection from burnout, stress relief, and more. The pesky need to pay these pesky humans that keep breaking down when they need to work 18-hour days, 7 days a week, for years. The pesky human condition that puts a natural ceiling to profit.

So this is what the problem is: that this entire breakthrough is endorsed for the sheer purpose of maximizing profit by eliminating the human factor from the equation. I'm not the one that says this. It's blatantly stated by the big corporations that endorse AI kpop bands and salivate over training AI to simulate artists they don't want to keep paying and wait on, and lose profit over.

Here is a salient quote from an article on the AI bands:

“The advantage of having virtual artists is that, while K-pop stars often struggle with physical limitations, or even mental distress because they are human beings, virtual artists can be free from these.”

And where does that leave us?

In a world of machine-generated mass production, where profit is king and artistic endeavor, innovation, and creation takes a back seat or is completely discarded, where does humanity fit in? How much can we consume before supply is a lot bigger than the demand, even for entertainment? And how stagnated, underdeveloped, and marginalized will human expression become because nobody will be willing to pay for it?

We got fast fashion, fast furniture, fast food, and now we're going to get fast art. Every single “fast” industry has been a detriment to the world on several levels, except for the maximization of profit of very few.

It should stop. Not of course, to stop the advance of technology or AI, even in the arts. But what should stop is this catatonic frenzy for more, faster, cheaper, while ironically everything that should be cheaper and accessible for human happiness is more and more expensive and unattainable.

I've never been a fan of capitalism. But as I grow older, watching how things (d)evolve, I'm starting to really hate it. And the AI problem is an excellent illustration of what is wrong with it all.

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DylanTale Comics at 5:51PM, Jan. 22, 2023

TheJagged: I don't think you realize what exactly the implications of having a cold, calculated robot running your country. I find it interesting how you rope religion with corruption when they aren't the same. I love how you say that you wish for the benefit of as many human beings as possible, yet you detach from the "wishy-washy touchy-feely crap". It's obvious that you either haven't watched too many movies with your exact vision coming to life (or damn near) or maybe you have and you want that to happen. Either way, your vision is impossible. In order to please more humans than not, you have to have people in charge who have humanity, sometimes including the "wishy-washy touchy-feely crap" that you despise for some reason. As long as there are people who have the mindset of "include everyone, please everyone, but then turn around and take out those you disagree with in order to achieve that", then the world will continue to divide itself further than what it already has.

Tantz_Aerine at 3:12PM, Jan. 22, 2023

TheJagged: oh yeah let's totally have AI politicians. I'm sure they'll all be trained with Martin Luther King and Jesus as prototypes, not with Rudolf Jung, Henry Kissinger, and all the realpolitik guys that were ok with giving immunity to Japanese murder doctors a la Mengele in exchange for the results of their inhuman torture research. WHAT COULD GO WRONG.

PaulEberhardt at 4:33AM, Jan. 22, 2023

This is to say: let AIs do the boring stuff like wallpaper motifs and elevator music - why not? It'll free artists to do other things that don't feel so thankless and degrading. If we all set an example by consistently treating AI products with due disrespect, they may actually be vaguely useful in making our lives richer instead of poorer, the way they are threatening to do if left unchecked.

PaulEberhardt at 4:25AM, Jan. 22, 2023

@TheJagged: Allowing AIs to replace governments and order people around is just about the worst dystopian nightmare I could possibly imagine! After all, someone has to program them in the first place, and what with the way this whole business is trying to force artwork and music etc. in line (whether on purpose or accidentally doesn't matter), I don't trust them an inch to make decisions in our best interest, no matter what the statistics will say they are sure to produce to shut everyone up. The first thing to happen instead will be spookily successful attempts to adapt people to swallow whatever the AIs puke up, Newspeak-like limiting their range of thought and expression. It's a safe bet, because people still tend to be human. That's why that people like us who can still tell the difference between good art and lame wallpapers, good music and background noise etc., (see RobertRVeith's comment), have a responsibility to teach as many others as we can how to do that.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 9:17PM, Jan. 21, 2023

I think this article very, very neatly capsulate my own view on the current state and future prospect of this whole thing. So I got nothing to add here.

cdmalcolm1 at 4:25PM, Jan. 21, 2023

This will come in as how Star Trek deals with AI. A Tool. Take the holosuite for example…. It is an AI that writes 3 dimensional software in real time with the option of turning on or off the safety features. The programmer simply speak what they want and it populates the request. the Holosuite AI is also taking examples from information it has access to. It’s the same thing we are doing at this stage and time. The stage in which we are at is at the very, very beginning compared to StarTrek version of this. From art to writing, it is here and it will stay. Many companies are already into this type Arena. As sad as that sounds, we as creators have to come up with ways to fool AI when it does its “sampling “ or “ reference” when it shows up a result. Kind of like a watermark that it will copy when “creating” new art results. The AI will also sample the watermark it sample from. The one thing AI can’t do is be spontaneously, creative.

RobertRVeith at 2:29PM, Jan. 21, 2023

I've been following this conversation as a creative working in a variety of media. I have friends saying AI will basically learn how to do what we do and replace us; I also have people saying AI is just another tool for creativity. I've done some experiments with AI for visual and music creation. My simple take on my results has been that most AI art has been awful from an ART standpoint. But every once in a while—say 5% of the time—it produces something that, with a bit of work on my part, could be genuinely interesting. As an artist, I can sift the good out of the crap and use AI as a tool to create something. So, in that sense, it's a tool. On the other hand, most people don't have the skills to recognize good art. I mean, most story telling follows a formula. Most music plays in the background. Most art functions as wallpaper. To put it another way, AI makes great wallpaper, but poor Davincis. So what do we do if most people can't tell the difference?

Jason Moon at 12:07PM, Jan. 21, 2023

AI art will never replace human artists. You will always need a mind behind it to tell it what to create. Growing up, illustrating and creating stories has always been my passion and kept me going in life. Has kept me going through the good and the bad and I'm sure many artists feel the same way. So the idea that a machine can take away my hobby is ridiculous because at the end of the day I've been doing this my whole life, blood sweat and tears, passion and creativity, while someone who struggles in the art field needs an AI, a tool with no passion, to create for them. The whole idea comes across as comical and sad. At the end of the day I'm still going to do what I have always done, create.

Coydog at 11:59AM, Jan. 21, 2023

The way I see it, the key to survival for artists in the following years is to do the things the AIs can't do or won't do. The AIs that will be generally available to the public will have certain strictures on them, or technical limitations. It will be up to us to figure out where those gaps are and bridge them. This is not going to stop me from doing what I've always been doing, it will be just one more thing to factor in.

TheJagged at 11:38AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Actually forget the art debate, here's what i really want: AI politicians. Machines making the most un-biased, calculated, un-emotional, economically effective decisions that benefit as many human beings as possible. Completely detached from corruption, religion, greed, superstition or any of that wishy-washy touchy-feely crap that keeps actual progress from happening. Basically i want those Neal Asher novels to become a reality. Benevolent machine gods, now that is true utopia.

DylanTale Comics at 10:14AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Even the AI generators with a paywall are cheaper than artists and people are going to take advantage of that, unfortunately. A couple of years ago, I was considering freelancing, but with how hard it is to start that up and with AI now being a bigger impediment, I no longer have that option on the table. There are some artists out there who don't mind posting/giving away free content (such as myself), but I do know that there are artists who actually need freelancing or paid commissioning in order to survive in general. I feel really bad for those people who are witnessing that opportunity get taken away by robots, which were probably made by the same people who come up with those shitty mobile games. The thing I hate the most when it comes to artificial anything is (like what Ozone said) the like farmers or even the people who comment "PROMOTE YOUR WORK ON [insert a like farming brand]" often on Instagram or DeviantArt. Basic, uncreative people like that really grind my gears.

InkyMoondrop at 10:07AM, Jan. 21, 2023

or already generated AI images fed to it over and over again? We don't always value art by the very same standards. One could idolize Dalí and still deeply moved by scribbles of their 5 year old kid. The way we look at art is something to meditate on. It reminds me of The Library of Babel, one of Borges's short stories about a library that contains every variation of every text imaginable, most of it is just nonsense, but there's a book there that has Shakespeare's works in it and the log of a phone call you had last Sunday, etc... someone even replicated it online, although it cheats a little, to my understanding it generates the texts upon search. So if there are infinite possibilities you can instantly get access to, you’re still the variable and you’re still infinite lifetimes short of exploring all these possibilities, which leads me to think we will always need art to affect us in ways, we will just have different undertandings of what constitutes art and to what degree.

InkyMoondrop at 10:07AM, Jan. 21, 2023

As far as I've heard the idol industry is already one of the most competitive, exploitive, soul-crushing businesses there is and it doesn't help that there is an inter-generational obsession with plastic surgeries in South Korea, where often parents pressure their very own teenage kids into go under such. I would actually need to see studies about in what ways AI affects this industry, whether it contributes to more people burning out and such or not... but technology changes rapidly and it often takes years or decades to draw long-term conclusions, by the time we're somewhere else entirely. I find the AI question to be extremely stimulating. If I see an image of a sunset that makes me end up in tears and it deeply affects me, it makes me want to improve my life and see the beauty in the smallest things, because I find something profound in it, should it take away from my experience, that I later learn it wasn't made by a person, but an algorythm using several people's works

Tantz_Aerine at 9:36AM, Jan. 21, 2023

TheJagged: that question isn't asked because it is irrelevant in this society and economy. If you think AI will lead us to a moneyless society... well, I hope you don't get unpleasantly surprised by how the current pyramidic society works with new tech.

TheJagged at 9:12AM, Jan. 21, 2023

The question i see no one asking: Once every single job has been replaced by a machine... will we even need money anymore? Machines producing machines sounds like a utopia. We can sit back, relax, and not lift a finger anymore. The AI revoluton can't come fast enough as far as i'm concerned.

marcorossi at 8:56AM, Jan. 21, 2023

I see no problems with AIs, now excuse me I have a date with my virtual waifu, we will visit a 3D generated simulation of the Hawaii.

lothar at 6:43AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Butlerian Jihad !!!

Ozoneocean at 5:09AM, Jan. 21, 2023

"Progress" is really a bit of a myth. We assume there's a linear path of improvement of things like technology, but it's a false idea. The real truth is that it's simply change: things can get worse as well as better for a lot of reasons like collapsing economies, things being too expensive to make, loss of skills. We don't have a linear path, in reality is sort of branches. Some branches continues, so die some join up with others. Apply that to AI: We don't know if there well be legal challenges to the content stealing that they really on to make their stuff yet, we don't know if the services will be stuck behind big paywalls eventually... there are many factors we don't know about yet that can change the landscape of how things work. The idea that it's here to stay now and it's unstoppable is wrong, as it always is about things.

Ozoneocean at 5:03AM, Jan. 21, 2023

*like-farmers - Deviant artists who make generic art in the same style as everyone else, made to a high quality but devoid of meaning and only made so they can get views and increase their popularity.

Ozoneocean at 5:02AM, Jan. 21, 2023

More testing... That'll be the result of more use of fake papers. People have been paying for fake papers from writers in Asia for ages, a lot of the spammers here advertise that service so it's nothing new. The AI generated ones will be easier to spot.So far Ive never seen any "original" AI made "art" I've had people tell me that it just generates the images out of "random noise" but that is of course a ridiculous, stupid myth, if that was the case then they wouldn't all look like the generic style of fantasy art made by *like-farmers on Deviant art, where most of that AI stuff is copied from.

PaulEberhardt at 4:43AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Youtuber Rick Beato said something about AI generated pop songs a while ago that I think is much more alarming. He worries in his video that the constant use of AutoTune and overproduction in music may make people get used to always hearing the same kind of thing in the same kind of sterile-sounding perfection, in turn limiting their ability to tell the difference between artificially created music and genuine products of human creativity. He's right. And that's just what I worry about with AI artwork. AIs can so far only copy and rearrange stuff according to certain patterns, and success depends on how much people become conditioned to want more of the same. So the niche for us real artists is therefore to be non-standard and edgy and show that that's much less boring. This, too, has happened in history before. /// Recommended reading: Fritz Leiber's The Silver Eggheads. It's from 1961 but is an eerily exact prediction of what AIs threaten to do to culture now, and fun to read, too.

PaulEberhardt at 4:28AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Btw., here's why I think so: prompted by another teaching colleague I recently tried entering tasks from old exams into an Open-AI. From what I saw, that AI would have passed the finals in Geography, even if I'd have given it only "C satisfactory", and possibly failed in English, but only because that includes a speaking exam where the student has to be present. Most of my point reductions were based on formalities not explicitly stated in the task, like not referring the answer to the appropriate parts in the material (that I couldn't force the AI to use), not separating the methodical steps properly and most crucially not developing a justified opinion of its own and settling for it but listing the options instead. In other words: many things where it's only a matter of time until AIs get that right, too. At that point, the remaining giveaways will be the relative lack of spelling, grammar and other mistakes. ;)

PaulEberhardt at 4:23AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Well said! You can never stop progress, at least not for long, and the general rule applies that not the technology is the problem, but what human beings do with it. @MOrgan: bravo nailed it. Grading tasks will have to focus even more on the methods than it already does. One day, using AI may even be incorporated in the tasks - if you can't lick them, join them - with the marks being given on, say, (a) how good students are at breaking down the task into small pieces, so the AI spits out the kind of result that is asked for, (b) examining the AI results critically and selecting which parts of it should go into the tasks, and (c) how they present the results in class. We teachers will have to come up with tasks that require students to know the subject well enough to be able to feed the AI what it needs and then tell if the results are useful. So the AI won't help if you slept through the lessons. It worked the same way with pocket calculators, decades ago, didn't it?

Tantz_Aerine at 4:01AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Yeah this frenzy is unsustainable, but I'm afraid it'll need to be demonstrated with extreme human suffering before anything is done about it.

bravo1102 at 2:22AM, Jan. 21, 2023

If you take away the jobs of your consumers who's going to want your product? Mass marketing and mass consumption is based on a mass of consumers. Replace people getting disposable income by making stuff and there's no more mass population to consume. They're putting themselves out of business. That is until the machines take over and they exterminate the useless mouths.

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