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You Ask, I Answer: Is AI Killing Art?

Anna asks, “Watching everyone make art and logos via AI, portraits from photos, trace via Procreate, etc, brings it home. Is art dead because people just upload whatever they want or ask a machine to do it?”

You Ask, I Answer: Is AI Killing Art?

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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode Anna asks, watching everyone make art and logos via AI portraits from photos trace via procreate Center brings it home is art dead? Because people just upload whatever they want or ask a machine to do it.

I mean, no.

Having machines creating art is, is two things First, machines cannot create original art now, what they create, you know, tools like wambo and Dolly and stuff like that, yes, they’re creating things that don’t necessarily exist in that form before but they are basing it on training data.

To understand the answer to this question, you have to understand how AI works.

AI works by taking large amounts of existing data and treat teaching machines to recognize it classified categorize and then create new stuff from that.


So if you give machines are a bunch of ingredients that can make new combinations of those ingredients.

Art by its very nature is creative, but it is creative in ways sometimes, in which something has been created that has never existed before there is no record of it is doesn’t look like anything else.

It doesn’t sound like anything else it is new.

And so when you have artists who are truly creative, they can create things that machines cannot because if the machine has never learned it from an existing piece of data, it can’t create versions of that.

Now, where these tools do interesting things is because they are trained on very large data sets that can be maybe the sum total of a type of knowledge or creations for a genre or niche or vertical.

Yes, they can create things that are novel in that vertical, but they can’t create anything that is brand new net new never seen before.

You’ll see this problem, even without AI in the movie industry.

If you spend some time listening to soundtracks, for movies, you will notice that there’s not a ton in mainstream Hollywood.

That’s new.

Right? And in fact, it is a great YouTube video series about this.

But in fact, it has gotten so bad the lack of originality that what’s been created is unoriginal and not particularly noteworthy.

Try this for an example.

This is a great exercise again.

I remember seeing this on YouTube.

I can’t remember which channel it was.

Can you think of the theme to the movie? Superman? Any of them? Can you think of a theme to Star Trek? Or to Star Wars? Right? Can you think of the theme to any Batman movie? Probably, right, you can probably think of some of those themes.


Can you think of a theme to Jurassic Park? very memorable.

pieces of music, original pieces of music? Can you think of a theme to a marvel? Marvel Cinematic Universe movie like Captain America or the Avengers? And like the 15 versions of that, or the Doctor Strange where we can you? Can you remember that music? I can’t.

I’ve seen these movies a bunch of times.

There’s nothing memorable about that music.

Why? Because there’s a lot of cases it’s a derivative.

It sounds okay in the moment.

But it’s not original.

And this is the issue that AI is running into.

It can create stuff that’s good.

It can’t create anything.

That’s great.

Right? It can’t create thing that is right now so novel and memorable and powerful that it embeds itself in our psyches it will get there probably.

But right now, that’s not the case.

So is art dead? Mediocre art is absolutely dead.

Mediocre art mediocre art meaning it’s it’s it’s not particularly good.

It’s not at all creative.

It’s not at all original.

It’s purely derivative.

Yeah, that’s dead because a machine can do that people have been doing that.

Is original art did Nope.

Is creative art dead? Because machines are still struggling with this.

And the nature of artificial intelligence makes us very difficult for machines to do.

Right machines inherently cannot train on data that does not exist.

And so something that is unique and new and creative It can’t be something that is in a training data set, because by definition is not new.

Christopher Penn 5:09

The second aspect to this that I think is worth considering, is yes, machines can make pretty okay, stop, right? That’s a ringing endorsement.

Yeah, that was pretty okay.

But it’s better than what some of us can do without machine help.

And this is the part of AI that makes me very optimistic is augments our intelligence and augments our capabilities.

I am not a particularly good artist, I am not at all a musician, right.

And yet, I can give ideas and a rough idea framework or a rough starting point to a machine to some AI.

And it can create something that is better than what I would do.

So my ambitions, my creative ambitions, maybe you make this magical, wonderful landscape painting.

But all I can do is like, make a mess in Microsoft Paint, right? My ambitions can be matched by a machine.

And the talent it brings, as long as I’m providing the framework for feedback to it, say like, Yes, this is what I want to notice what I don’t want.

And that, to me is very powerful.

Because the more we enable people to express themselves, the happier people will be.

If you’ve got this idea for the great American novel, and you can’t write you know, you’re just not a good writer.

Machines can help.

We’re not at the point yet, where they can just write out you just you just give it a prompt, and they write out something coherent, that is good, that is aligned with what you want.

That’s going to take some more time.

But we’re getting to the point where you can bang away a few sentences in a tool like one of the GPT models, and the machine can autocomplete a bunch of stuff afterwards, and speed you on your way towards writing that.

That great novel that you wanted to write that you’ve that you think has been living inside you.

And it’s just been languishing because you’re struggling to put the words together.

Machines can help you construct music.

Is it exactly what it you know, the original piece composed by someone’s true musical talent great.

No, absolutely not.

Is it better than what I would do face rolling on a piano keyboard? 100%.


When you listen to machine generated music that’s been guided by a human it’s, it’s pretty okay.

It’s it’s in Marvel Cinematic Universe territory.

It’s not memorable.

It’s not original.

It’s not particularly compelling.

But it’s better than nothing.

It’s better than face smashing into the piano.

So art is not dead.

AI is not killing art, not true original art.

It is augmenting people’s capabilities who don’t have skills, and it is cranking out stuff that is mediocre.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, what level of excellence? Are we? Do we find acceptable? Right? Is a machine painted landscape acceptable? Depends, I guess, on on what your tastes are.

If your tastes are very sophisticated, you would say no, that’s not good enough, I need a piece of art created by a true human artists that can understand the nuances the big picture of the art I want to create.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a background for a poster on a restroom stall, maybe like, yeah, machine generated spine, it’s good enough for this application.

So a big part of this, the answer to this question depends on what your needs are, and what your standards are, and whether your standards are above or below what a machine can create.

And you can see the outline here of a bit of a painting that I did with a squirt gun.

The camera is not particularly compelling art, right? It’s, it’s okay, it’s fine.

It’s good enough for a wall in my basement.

But a machine could do that pretty easily.

And it would do it as well or better than me.

And that’s okay, if this meets the needs.

Would this be appropriate for a gallery? No.

Was it appropriate to sell for $5,000? No, or make an NFT? I guess? No.

That’s not it’s not good enough for that.

So that’s the answer to the question.

AI is not killing great art.

AI is not killing original art unique art.

AI is 100% replacing mediocre or bad art.

And it should because, again, any repetitive task like that is better off for a machine to do it anyway.

So really good question.

Thanks for asking.

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