Machine Art

There are PhD papers being researched and published right now about AI art and its capabilities as an artistic force, there will be more on that soon. But, more importantly, there is a cross discipline pursuit to understand and navigate the data revolution of our time to create AI that is human-level.

There are future engineers and scientists developing educational models to teach AI across university faculties far beyond the computer sciences, think anthropological units like ethics and psychology. Society adapts to high level programming as AI seeks to create problem solving algorithms that don’t just think like a human but behave, perform and dream as human.

OpenAI – a company leading the charge for AI capability, first started in 2015. OpenAI are a not for profit and label themselves as a research institution. They believe without a financial imperative they can focus their attention on creating AI that benefits humanity while maintaining some humility, almost a cap on ego that won’t let EVIL computers take over the world. Lofty goals. It is co-founded and chaired by Elon Musk and Sam Altman and funded in the billions by Peter Thiel and Amazon Web Services amongst a few others.

Open AI are most famous for AI art models like GPT-2 and DALL-E and now DALL-E 2. Machine learning tools that generate digital images based on text input are having their day in the sun. There has been much press delivered around OpenAI’s DALL-E program since it was first released in early 2021. This blog post alone has been in heavy distraction mode ever since signing up to an AI art generator, Midjourney. Just try and tear yourself away. DALL-E 2 has a waitlist and is inviting new users slowly.

DALL E-2 is an AI art tool worth exploring mainly because it is fun to use and manipulate language to create art that is literally beyond imagination. You don’t need to be an artist or a software engineer, a rudimentary understanding of the English language is enough. There are limited consequences, if any, to messing it up. Just keep trying. And, I note, they have your attention so stay mindful if possible, set limits.

Some users have really nailed the brief, like Jason Allen, who recently won the Fine Art category of the Colorado state art prize for his Renaissance picture. He was interviewed by Washington Post because it is a philosophical dilemma. They asked him ‘why’ he entered the art prize and also gained some perspective from a judge’s stance. Allen did not lie upon entering, he was straight about using Midjourney as the tool to create his entry, even admitting his lack of skill in analog creativity. Out of the 596 participants only 21 submitted “digitally manipulated art”. The judge interviewed for the story said the piece, “had a concept and a vision he brought to reality, and it’s really a beautiful piece.” The judge is an art historian and said that it was engaging and caught her attention and she didn’t care how it was created.

When interrogating artists about this question of who is an artist and what does it mean to have fine art created digitally using AI, one of them said that no one can take away from the fun of the process of creating art, regardless of how it is made. Artists are often doing it for themselves and fairplay, so can AI artists.

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