Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Creativity: Embrace It or Resist It, Change Will Happen
At the time of composing this text, there exists an unfortunate division within the art community. With each day that passes, the rift of dissent is growing rapidly, becoming more vicious and distinct. The Artificial Creation Revolution is the focal point of this polarization. History has previously witnessed these refusals of progress.
The Industrial Revolution, computers in the workplace, robots in manufacturing, the internet and cloud computing have all had a profound impact on our world, but also faced criticism. Each ground breaking advancement received its fair share of negative feedback.
The Industrial Revolution was a big change that happened around 250 years ago. It was a period when people started using machines and new ways of making things, which helped them produce goods like clothes, food, and tools much faster and in larger quantities than ever before.
Before the Industrial Revolution, people used to make things by hand, and they had to do everything themselves. For example, if someone wanted to make a piece of clothing, they would have to spin the thread by hand, weave the fabric by hand, and then sew the clothes by hand. This was a slow and difficult process that took a long time.
During the Industrial Revolution, new machines were invented that could do many of these tasks much faster and more efficiently than people could. For example, the spinning jenny and power loom were machines that could spin and weave cloth much faster than people could do by hand. This allowed factories to produce much more cloth than before.
This increase in productivity helped to kickstart the modern economy and led to the creation of new jobs, new industries, and new ways of life for many people. The Industrial Revolution changed the world in many ways, and it laid the groundwork for the modern world we live in today.
However, not everyone was happy about the changes that were happening. Some people resisted the new machines and ways of working. One group of people who resisted the Industrial Revolution were the Luddites. They were a group of skilled textile workers in England who feared that the new machines would replace their jobs and make them obsolete. The Luddites protested by breaking the machines and sometimes even attacking factories. They saw themselves as defending their way of life and their right to earn a living.
Another group that resisted the Industrial Revolution were the agricultural workers. Many of them lost their jobs as farms became more efficient and required fewer workers. They faced a lot of hardship and poverty as a result.
Some people also resisted the harsh working conditions that came with industrialization. Factory work was often dangerous, with long hours, low pay, and few breaks. Workers had little say in their working conditions, and some tried to organise unions and strikes to improve their situation. Overall, the resistance to the Industrial Revolution was not organised or coordinated, but rather a collection of different groups and individuals who were unhappy with the changes that were happening.
While the Industrial Revolution brought many benefits and opportunities, it also had its costs and consequences, and it’s important to remember the struggles of those who resisted it.
Luddites vs Artists of Today
Like the Luddites of the Industrial Revolution, some artists of today fear that AI will replace their jobs and make their skills and expertise obsolete. They worry that machines will be able to create art faster, cheaper, and in greater quantities than human artists can. They also express concerns that AI-generated art lacks the unique human touch and emotional depth that comes with human creativity. Important questions about the nature of art, creativity, and the role of technology in society are being raised and discussed. They are asking important questions about the ethics of using machines to create art, the impact of technology on our understanding of human creativity, and the potential implications for the future of art and culture.
While the Luddites of 250 years ago and the artists of today share some common fears and concerns, they are also responding to different historical contexts and grappling with different questions and issues. Some artists are concerned that AI-generated art that has been trained using a vast collection of existing artists’ work constitutes copyright theft. They argue that the use of copyrighted material to train AI systems raises important questions about ownership, creativity, and intellectual property.
The concern is that AI-generated art that has been trained on a large corpus of existing artwork may reproduce or imitate existing styles, techniques, and motifs without giving proper credit or compensation to the original creators. This could be seen as a form of plagiarism or copyright infringement. It’s important to note that the use of existing artwork to train AI systems is not considered copyright theft under current legal norms. This is because AI is not capable of infringing copyright, as it is simply a tool that has been programmed to learn from existing data.
Just like a human student artist studies the works of great masters to learn about different styles and techniques, AI systems learn from existing artwork in order to develop their own style and creativity. AI does not have the intention to steal or copy the work of others, nor does it have the ability to make creative decisions without being trained on existing data.
Furthermore, AI-generated art is not a perfect copy of existing artwork, but rather a unique creation that has been influenced by existing styles and techniques. While AI may be able to reproduce certain elements of existing artwork, it is also capable of producing new and innovative work.
While AI-generated art has the potential to be a powerful tool for creativity and innovation, it is important to ensure that it is used ethically and in accordance with existing copyright laws. This means being transparent about the use of existing artwork in training AI systems, giving proper credit and compensation to original creators, and ensuring that the use of AI-generated art does not devalue the work of human artists.
Moreover, some artists worry that the use of AI-generated art in commercial contexts could result in the devaluation of their own work. If machines can create art that is indistinguishable from that of human artists, then what is the value of human creativity?
Embrace New Technologies and Tools To Stay Ahead Of The Curve and Remain Competitive
Let’s not forget that even the advent of the computer had a profound impact on the role of the commercial artist. Prior to the widespread use of the computer as an art-working tool, commercial art was typically created by hand using traditional media such as pencils, inks, paints, and markers. This process was time-consuming, labour-intensive, and required a high degree of skill and expertise. I remember a very awkward meeting I had with the directors of the company I was employed by during that era. I was told that I was being transferred from the light tables to a new department which would create artwork on PCs. What a body blow! I really thought I was getting side-lined out of the business. In my naïve mind, there was no place in art for computers, they were cold heartless machines that had no chance of creating anything near to what could be achieved with pen and ink. How wrong I was.
With the advent of computers, commercial artists were able to create digital art using specialised software and hardware. This made the creation of commercial art faster, more cost-effective, and more precise. It also allowed artists to work on a wider range of projects and collaborate with clients and colleagues from around the world. One of the most significant changes brought about by the use of computers in commercial art is the shift towards digital media. Digital art can be easily edited, manipulated, and distributed across a wide range of platforms and media, from websites to social media to print publications.
The Luddites’ resistance to industrialization during the Industrial Revolution may have ultimately been unsuccessful in preventing the changes that were happening, but it’s important to recognize that their efforts were not completely in vain. The Luddites’ opposition to the use of machines helped to raise awareness about the social and economic impacts of industrialization and led to the implementation of laws and regulations to protect workers’ rights and welfare.
Similarly, the concerns of artists about AI-generated art are valid and important to consider. However, it’s important to recognize that technology is constantly evolving and changing the way we create, consume, and appreciate art. Instead of resisting these changes, artists should embrace them and find new ways to incorporate them into their own workflow.
This doesn’t mean that traditional art forms will become obsolete. Rather, it means that artists can take advantage of new technologies, techniques, and tools to expand their creative horizons and explore new avenues for artistic expression. For example, AI-generated art can be used as a source of inspiration or as a tool for generating ideas that can then be further developed and refined by the artist’s own hand.
By embracing new technologies and tools, artists can stay ahead of the curve and remain competitive in an ever-evolving art world. It’s important to keep an open mind and not get stuck in the “this is the way I have always done it” trap. Change can be frightening, but it can also be exciting and lead to new and unexpected opportunities for creativity and innovation.