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Drawing the line - An illustrator’s exploration of AI
Coffee Sunday with Adam Ming
I’m part of an international group of writers and illustrators, we call ourselves theOnce a month we agree on a topic, and a number of us write on it. This month our editor , suggested we write about AI. So that’s what I’m doing.
Throughout the week I Chat with you on various topics, sometime these chats end up here!
What do you want A.I to do for you? wants it to do the Laundry, Cook Dinner and Clean the Bathroom. And added TAXES to the list. Took it a step further and actually got it to do meal and grocery planning!
A better name for AI
I think Artificial Intelligence, is a presumptuous name. And the name itself is a big part of the problem. So let’s solve that first, at least for this letter. Here’s the name that Chat GPT came up with “Automatic pattern finder and decision maker”. Now that tells you what’s going on in the machine. And if that was its name, I don’t think there will be as much split opinion about the thing.
Also, AI is not one big thing. Rather than refer to AI as a singular entity. It’s more accurate to refer to them as AIs.
People seem to be neutral and even pleased to have some AIs in their daily lives. Like autocorrect on their phone, or predictive text. Pinterest, Instagram, and Google Search all imply some form of AI. Even tools like Adobe have AI tools built in for what feels like a decade. Things like ‘content aware’.
But now artists feel an existential threat.
I think there are actually two existential threats.
1. “AIs will take over my art job”.
To this, I have two thoughts.
That this is true for everybody. Not just artists. Every job from Neurosurgeons to Baristas is on a schedule to be replaced by robots and AI. In fact, as this happens the need and role of the artist actually appreciates in value, as we need new stories to make sense of this transformation. And creativity is the actual skill set needed to navigate unknown territory.
Art is actually appreciated for its humanity. I predict human art will become more understood and valued just because there’s so much attention around it. And art made in collaboration with Ai might also be appreciated as an art form. The thing we can consider is how can we get more humanity into our art.
2. “AIs are stealing from me”
The other controversy is that AIs that generate art are trained on the art that was created by artists, living and dead. That is the argument for why AI is bad for artists.. and I just cannot agree with that line of reasoning.
Are we to stop using Google Maps then, a tool that uses my creativity in finding the fastest route to benefit everyone else around me? On Pinterest that uses my tastes to educate the taste of others?
Laws change over time. And copyright law related to AI will need to be created. But that is going to take decades. In the meantime, it’s impossible to avoid using AI in the creation of work. If you search for an image, an AI has been leveraged AI and according to your logic, you have stolen a glance. The same if you scrolled through Pinterest. If you even typed a search query, you’ve used AI, you’ve farmed the distributed intelligence, the ‘work’ of others to get your result. Will you stop using your AI ladened technologies, to keep your art ‘pure’?
Are we going to abstain from new technologies that emerge because it’s uncomfortable? Or will we use our God-given creativity and play and see what we might create with these new tools? Or how we can use these tools to help the work we do?
I think AI gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our humanity more potently. And it may serve as a tool if we choose to use it.
I don’t know if I might have I’ve offended you or enlightened you. I might need some enlightening myself. Do you have a view on the existential threats of AI to artists? What about the opportunities?
If you want to chat about illustration roughs instead, do it here.