We all hear more and more about the role in our lives of computers, the Internet and latterly artificial intelligence (AI).
Recently there has been the appearance of a new generation of AI software or ‘AI engines’ as their creators call them. These new AI engines are out of the domain of university research labs and specialised corporate departments – they are intended to create content: music, written prose and art.
This computer generated art raises many ethical questions. Already a whole album of AI generated ‘folk music’ has been released and many thousands of people listened to it without knowing it was computer generated. Dishonest to say the least.
Many internet pages are already written by automatic computer algorithms – the editor pays his or her money then types in the requirements for the article in the same way as he or she types in a Google search. Press the button, wait a few moments and the ready written article is ready for download. This is bad news for internet copy creators, of whom there are millions around the world.
And so we come to fine art. There is an AI engine, Dall-E, which generates digital art. A group of tech investors is behind it, which includes a certain Elon Musk. To use it one goes to the website, signs up and then ‘commissions’ a work of art. In order to do this the user simply types in, in plain words from one of several languages, what type of painting and subject is required. A few moments later Dall-E serves up several instantly created digital ‘artworks’. Of course these are created from algorithms which copied the requested style and used as a base images from internet image banks, which contain millions of photographs.
There is a question of whether or not an AI engine can create genuinely new art. This leads into a debate about what art actually is. Whatever, I typed into Dall-E the following requirement: painting of Bridlington harbour in the impressionist style. Below are the 4 artworks it generated.
The digital images are quite low resolution, which may be because I used the trial version of the AI engine without paying. The images are colourful and impressionistic and quite well composed.
I foresee a time when many millions of people around the world will have cheap AI-generated art on their walls. What this means for artists is anyone’s guess, but it may not be positive. Whatever happens the invasion of whole areas of life by computers and AI certainly cannot be halted. Hold onto the rails. Things may get rough.