Growing up with computer technology during the 1960s-70s was a unique experience. A period of technological infancy when computers were the domain of large corporations, government agencies and science fiction writers.
Massive, complex machines. I recall seeing my first computer on a work experience visit to the ICI computer building on Teesside, three floors to house a single computer. However, as today, the impact of these technologies drew concerns about their impact on society. Now here we are, 50 years on and we sit on the brink of technology accelerating far beyond anything previously envisaged.
AI technology will touch every aspect of our lives. Yet, without the intervention of 1,000 technology leaders and researchers writing a letter we would have heard little. The debate is now wide open. Governments, legislators, and regulators who had previously gone AWOL are starting to listen.
I don’t profess to be an expert, just a person who enjoys technology with an interest in the debate and who having suffered a leg injury recently found myself laid up and with the time to try and get under the bonnet of those concerns and wrote this. I appreciate there are wider issues of concern, given the latest contribution from scientist have spoken about the risk of AI leading to human extermination. An alarmist headline always captures attention, but for now my concern is we are not focused on the issues, benefits and challenges AI will bring today and the media term.
Today I’m concerned about the impact these technologies and the ethical dilemmas will have on the creative arts. This is a particularly tough time for artists who are starting to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic artists, regardless of their discipline be them ballerina, punk band, recording studio, small independent venues, etc.
Ownership and authorship: One of the biggest ethical dilemmas is who owns the artwork created by AI. Is it the artist who created the algorithm or the machine that generated the artwork? This raises questions about authorship and intellectual property rights.
Authenticity and originality: With the ability to generate endless variations of a particular style or artwork, AI raises questions about the authenticity and originality of the artwork. This could lead to a devaluation of traditional artistic skills and techniques.
Human vs. machine creativity: There is a debate about whether AI can truly be creative or if it is simply a tool for artists to use. This raises questions about the role of the artist and the value of human creativity.
Bias and discrimination: AI algorithms are only as good as the data they are fed, until that is they can think for themselves. Those who feed the data also feed their interpretation of history, politics, which risks perpetuating biases, discrimination, etc. reinforcing historic and existing societal injustices.
Privacy and data protection: The use of AI in the art world raises concerns about privacy and data protection. Artists and collectors may be hesitant to share personal data with AI systems, and there are concerns about the potential misuse of this data.
Yet, we cannot be luddites given this technology is already with us and even given these concerns AI has many benefits for the artist and those who enjoy art.
New creative possibilities: AI can generate new and unique artworks that may not have been possible without the use of this technology. This opens new creative possibilities for artists and expands the boundaries of what is possible in art.
Efficiency and productivity: AI can automate time-consuming tasks such as image recognition, data analysis, and content curation, freeing up more time for artists to focus on the creative aspects of their work.
Personalisation and customisation: AI can be used to create personalized and customized art experiences for individual viewers or collectors. This can enhance the emotional connection between the viewer and art.
Preservation and restoration: AI can be used to preserve and restore artworks, particularly those that are damaged or deteriorating. This can help to extend the lifespan of these artworks and ensure that they are accessible for future generations.
Accessibility and inclusivity: AI can help to make art more accessible and inclusive by providing alternative ways of experiencing and interacting. For example, AI-powered virtual reality experiences can enable people to explore artworks in a more immersive and interactive way.
After completing my research, I downloaded some free software and typed the following words, “Abstract painting of 1975 British industrial landscape” into its algorithm. This is the image created.