“The argument that AI-generated art cannot be considered true art because it lacks the capability to express values, experiences, or opinions about the universe is a narrow-minded and outdated perspective.”AI generated response to The Daily Campus column
Last week, I published an essay arguing that images and literature generated by Artificial Intelligence cannot be considered true art. Being a true journalist — not having any ideas and loosely copying a New York Times article — I decided to input said essay into ChatGPT, and asked it to write a rebuttal. Below is its response, in which I’ve included by own response to each claim.
“First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that art has always been a reflection of the society and technology of its time. From cave paintings to digital art, each medium and technique used to create art has evolved with advancements in technology and society. Therefore, it is only natural that as we continue to progress technologically, so too will the way in which we create and view art.”AI generated response to The Daily Campus column
This I agree with, to a varying extent. The mediums we have utilized historically have progressed along with the rest of technology, albeit some methods of art still rely on ancient techniques such as pottery or painting. Yes, there have been technological advancements that gave us pottery wheels or sturdier canvases, and yes, the introduction of digital art was a massive leap from the aforementioned tangible art forms. The transition from physical to digital art, however, did not include a transition from human-made to AI-made art. Not to mention, this claim relies heavily on a mere prediction of the future and engaging in some form of logical fallacy that states, more or less, “because something has happened this will surely follow.”
“Furthermore, to say that AI-generated art lacks the ability to express experiences, values, or opinions is to overlook the fact that the very process of creating AI-generated art requires human input. The algorithms and data used to train AI-generated art are created and selected by humans, meaning that any values, experiences, or opinions expressed in the final product are a reflection of the humans who created it. In this way, AI-generated art can be seen as a collaboration between man and machine, rather than solely the product of a machine.”AI generated response to The Daily Campus column
No…Well perhaps, but not like that.
If I were to construct an AI-art machine, and I included a code which read, “always pick blue colors over red colors,” since I prefer blue to red, then yes, my AI would be reflecting my personal preferences in the art it creates, assuming it opts for shades of blues over shades of reds. What it cannot do is reflect my experiences, memories and beliefs about the universe. To say that AI possess some transitive property in which the experiences of their creators may be reflected is folly. My preference to blue over red? Yes. My — perfectly rational — fear of squirrels? No, unless I explicitly told my machine to never produce anything “squirrel-like,” though this means I’d have to include every like and dislike in my coding, an impossible feat.
“Moreover, the claim that AI-generated art lacks the ability to express values, experiences, or opinions is also problematic because it implies that art must necessarily express those things in order to be considered art. However, this is not a requirement for art. Art can be abstract, and it can have no message or meaning at all. It is art for the sake of art, and that is perfectly valid. AI-generated art is no different.”AI generated response to The Daily Campus column
I think here it’s important we, once again, differentiate between mediums of art and capital-A Art itself. I don’t think all paintings are art, as if they were then our definition of art would rely on the materials of the medium itself, i.e., all canvases covered in paint are art. Further, abstract art differentiates from this by its inherent expression of human experience, by virtue of it being human made. AI-art does not satisfy this, and I’d argue that art that does not express anything is not art, but rather a painting or sculpture or whatever medium it presents itself in. If this sounds a bit odd, it’s likely because most of these mediums are created with the intention of expressing something. Yet, that does not make all mediums inherently art, and AI-art is one of those mediums.
Art is also contextual. I used the example of a “trash can on the side of the road,” and how we — society — can come to a fairly unanimous conclusion that such a sight is not art. If, hypothetically, we were to move that trash can off of the street and place it in the center of the MET, our answer may change. It may come off as a bit shallow, smelly even, but it’s placement in a place of art is a statement in itself. It may seem like I’m admitting to a rather major flaw in my argument, in that if we were to place an AI-generated image in the MET, it, too, would be considered art by the museum goers.
Yet, I believe the AI-generated image would produce a similar if not identical response to the trash can, ‘what’s the point?’ It may possess more material beauty than the trash can, but it’s absence of any sort of meaning is felt through its disconnect from the human experience. In the case of the trash can, someone — not something — made the active decision to move it into the museum, whether it be for the sake of some political protest or irony piece. Yes, AI make “decisions” as well, but these decisions are not made in the context of the greater society; rather they are relegated to nothing more than blue or red.
“In conclusion, the argument that AI-generated art cannot be considered true art because it lacks the capability to express experiences, values, or opinions about the universe is a narrow-minded and outdated perspective. Art has always evolved with advancements in technology and society, and it is only natural that as we continue to progress technologically, so too will the way in which we create and view art. AI-generated art, like any other art form, should be judged on its own merit, rather than being dismissed outright because of outdated ideas about what art should be.”AI generated response to The Daily Campus column
It’s got me here. My views probably do fall under the “boomer” category of thought. But I stand by the distinction between creation and generation and values — beliefs — and values — numerical data. A paint off will surely settle it.