Look around online (and off) right now, and you’ll see outrage. Outrage everywhere, as far as the eye can see.
About all kinds of things. Specifically pertaining to this article — about AI and Chat GPT and the future of art and creativity.
But I find outrage extremely dull: it’s thought-terminating, conversation-killing, and it serves as a distraction to what’s actually important.
Here’s a thing I believe about AI:
Human art (and the money to be made from it) is in no danger from AI. Now, or in the foreseeable future.
Because — and this is the point the outrage-mongers are missing — it’s not really the art that matters to us; it’s the story behind it.
We might not always consciously realise it, but at the heart of what makes art so compelling is the reason why: why the artist painted this particular landscape, and not that one.
Why the writer chose this theme for their memoir.
Why the novelist wrote this story about this character.
We want to know why.
AI art may be technically beautiful, competently written, wonderfully executed, and pass the Turing tests… and maybe, one day, AI will produce creative work that is truly original (whatever that means)….
But right now, and until it develops sentience, it’s only ever going to do what it’s told.
Why did the AI write this essay?
Because someone gave it parameters and asked it to.
Why did Terry Pratchett write the Discworld novels?
Because he had something important to say about the nature of humanity, and a bottomless well of rage about injustice to tap to help him do so.
That’s the difference.
That’s why AI won’t replace human art any time soon. That’s why human-created books, paintings, and music will endure — because ultimately, we are self-obsessed humans who want to know all about what makes us tick, and art is one of the ways we do that.
As for the rest of it, I don’t know enough about the legal ins and outs to comment on that. I don’t know how copyright and intellectual property is going to get sorted out.
But I do believe — I know — that art isn’t in long-term danger.
Here’s a few other things I believe, too:
- AI will take over some aspects of writing — and that’s a good thing because it’ll save us time and energy to put into true creativity.
- AI will probably produce some amazing art and writing, and in conjuction with humans, we’ll probably see some really cool stuff come into the world.
- Many people are missing the missing the point here.
Go and read Margo Aaron’s article on this subject.
I think she’s spot on.
If AI can write better sales copy than we can — let it.
If AI can write better-researched journalism than we can — let it.
We’re already consuming mediocre, formulaic movies, stories, and TV shows, and we love them. So what’s the problem?
The problem, as Margo says, is us.
It’s not AI that’s in danger of killing writing; it’s us — by being, as she says, “stale, flat, and uninteresting”.
So if you’re worried about AI killing writing, I get it.
But the best thing we can possibly do is be more bloody interesting.