It’s crazy to think that we, as humans, have been expressing our creative side for thousands of years. The oldest cave paintings (that we know of) date all the way back to the Prehistoric Age. Now, human-produced AI and algorithms are capable of creating their own art. Thus, the creators of art have now become the creators of the creators of art. However, there are still many things that AI simply cannot do. Even with how quickly automation and other AI tech are advancing, I sincerely believe that they will never fully replace human beings in the realm of art.
That said, I’m a huge proponent of further research & development in AI. I even use AI to better some of my businesses. At The Doe, we conduct cutting-edge evaluations through AI; by utilizing natural language processing (NPL) and other technologies in our user quizzes, we help our readers better understand differing values and perspectives. However, just because AI is useful doesn’t mean it offers a solution to every problem. After all, if I want to hear a great song, I don’t ask Siri to sing something for me.
Art Is a Distinctly Sentient Process
I don’t want to offend any bots that might be reading this, but art has always been something created by (and for) sentient beings. Humans (and maybe even a few other species) have the unique capacity to feel emotions and produce things with intent. That is to say, we can make things not just out of necessity, but also out of desire. More often than not, it is the desire to make something of beauty.
Whether it’s a poem, a song, a painting, a digital NFT, or something else entirely, humans have the unique ability to create things with intention. We want to enjoy them. If we produce art for the sake of others (as is often the case), then we want them to be enjoyed, or at the very least, appreciated.
As a writer and music producer, I have a special place in my heart for my fellow scribes and musicians. Writers use their linguistic abilities to create beautiful prose, informative articles, entertaining scripts, and profound stories. On the other hand, musicians use a combination of senses to create intricate melodies and harmonies, beats that seem to reach directly into your soul and make your body move, as well as completely new sounds that have never been heard before. While technology may help many artists practice their craft, it’s hard to imagine an algorithm producing Sylvan LaCue’s “Clam Chowda” or penning David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.
Artificial Intelligence Merely Replicates Human Intelligence
As it stands now, Artificial Intelligence really has no ground to stand on when it comes to creative intent. We currently have no formal way to measure sentience, but since humans created AI tech and we know (with near certainty) that it does not have a consciousness, we can conclude that an AI robot is not sentient — at least, not under current definitions of the term.
Thus, AI is only able to replicate human intelligence and behavior. A robot can appear to feel sad, but that does not mean that it actually feels sad. Similarly, a robot can be programmed to create a beautiful work of art, but in this instance, who is the real artist? The human who wrote the algorithm or the robot that carried out the directive according to a specific formula? I would say the human, as the robot is merely a tool in the artistic process, rather than the creative mind behind it.
Even If AI Can Rival Certain Sentient Qualities, It Cannot Replace Human Creativity
In any case, there’s no doubt that AI is constantly evolving and improving, so how can I be so sure that AI will never fully replace human-made art? Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that AI evolves to the point that it is virtually indistinguishable from human beings. By all accounts, we have created a sentient robot with the capacity to feel, think, react, and create things from scratch with vision and intention. In short, I’m imagining a future in which AI can create art on its own, without any help or guidance from human beings.
Even in this hypothetical future, human-made art would still remain distinct from AI-produced art. This is because every human consciousness is its own entity; we may have collective qualities and properties as sentient beings, but we are all individuals living our own little lives. Thus, human art will always be a reflection of human creativity that is unique to each person, and to our species as a whole. AI tech may evolve to produce its own art forms, but they will exist separately from what we create.
So, even as fearmongers worry about robots writing news articles or algorithms creating hit songs, human art will always have its own space. We may not always be able to tell the difference between human and AI creations, but this fact is largely irrelevant. As long as humans never lose our capacity to exercise creativity and produce things of beauty, no robot will be able to take that away from us.