Art has, since time immemorial, been viewed as something quintessentially human. Many utopian visions of a technological future are based on the idea that machines will automate all the mundane, monotonous tasks of life, allowing humanity to fully indulge itself in creative expression. Certainly, artists would not be made obsolete by number crunching machines.
But in the past few years, AI Art Generators, specifically Text-to-Art Generators such as MidJourney and Dall-E, have taken the world by storm. Users simply write a prompt, and the Algorithm takes knowledge amassed from images all over the internet, to create beautiful images. A mermaid basking on the shore of Loch, on a moonlit night, in the style of Van Gogh? Done. Cubist Unicorn? Have four. With a little practice, anything you want you can get with the right text?
But what does this mean for human artists? We’ve already seen push back from artists worried about their livelihoods, existential worries about human creativity and self-expression, and concerns about the moral and legal issues around masses of artwork being used without consent in order to train AI Generators.
In this episode, Aleks explores why art is so core to some people’s existence, why these Generators have such wide appeal, uncovers the story of a pioneer who grappled with the place of human and machine in art making for decades, and finds out why wonky AI may offer the most opportunity for human imagination to bloom.