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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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bravo1102 at 2:18AM, Jan. 21, 2023

Remember those math tests where you're told to "show your work"? That's one way an educator can deal with AI generated work. Show what you did. Not the finished product, the data you fed into the AI. Your efforts are what would graded not the sparkling finish the AI puts on it.

MOrgan at 1:30AM, Jan. 21, 2023

A friend of mine who works for Microsoft wondered how teachers will deal with assignments now that AI can produce all the results.

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