How does one compete with a machine? My career has barely begun and there’s a chance it’ll be derailed already, by AI driven programs that can write content in a fraction of the time it takes me. Should I pack in my craft, go back to college and learn to be a plumber – or do I carry on, and instead of resisting the inevitable takeover of the machines, use them as an ally?
It feels like we’ve reached the point of no return with AI, websites like Buzzfeed are binning off staff in favour of machine-generated content, while the companies behind them feed them with more and more data. You’ve probably read articles in the last few months that were written by AI – and you may be none the wiser.
This feels like our generation’s industrial revolution, and we look back on those times and question why the luddites didn’t just learn how to use the machines they were given instead of fighting against them, as they were an inevitability. The same can be said too, for the cinema musicians who lost their jobs when the speaker was invented, as those establishments no longer required live music. It’s crazy to think about how that used to be a job title, and how many more musicians were around before the speaker was invented. Times change I’m afraid, and I doubt another self-imposed Dark Age is going to come around again.
I still don’t feel completely comfortable with the AI revolution, there is a massive risk of propaganda and exploitation if one or two US-based companies are the ones generating all of the content.
For example, I was trying to AI generate an image of a toucan and the Sputnik 1 satellite in space (just because I like crossing over my own books, okay), and for all the prompts I entered, Sputnik 1 would never appear. I don’t feel the need to speculate, but one would think if it was invented anywhere else, it may have loaded in, instead I received images like the below:
I’ll let you come to your own conclusions.
The fact certain things can be programmed out, or blacklisted in code, means that they will appear less and less frequently in text and imagery – this could also work vice versa. I’m not saying this is actually happening, more that the potential for it to happen is there.This dilution of content and art goes against everything art stands for, which is to challenge the status quo, to ponder new and old ideas, to think outside of whatever box the world is trying to put you in.
AI can, and will be, a fantastic tool to assist in tedious, boring tasks. It can reshuffle words around to break writer’s block, or take prompts and expand on ideas – just as talking to a fellow writer or artist can do. But these AI’s need prompts, I asked ChatGPT to create a synopsis for a movie where Prague, and an alternate, futuristic Neo-Tokyo spliced together in a time-altering event, and this is what it spat out:
“In a world where alternate dimensions exist, a strange phenomenon occurs when the ancient city of Prague and a futuristic Neo-Tokyo from an alternate dimension suddenly collide. The impact causes chaos and destruction, leaving both cities in a state of shock.
As the two cities merge together, the people of Prague and Neo-Tokyo find themselves in a bizarre, alternate reality. Prague’s cobbled streets and Baroque architecture now stand alongside neon-lit skyscrapers and high-tech gadgets. The cultural clash is palpable, with the citizens of both cities struggling to adapt to their new surroundings.
Amidst the chaos, a young woman named Kira finds herself trapped in this new world. She was born in Prague and had never left the city before the collision. Now, she must navigate the strange new world around her, filled with technology and unfamiliar customs. But Kira quickly discovers that she’s not alone in this strange new reality.”
Sounds cool right? I even generated this, interesting, looking poster to go with it:
I have no idea why it’s named the movie ‘Race’, but we’ll run with it. All that is well and good, but you try and get the AI to write the script, it’ll be incoherent garble. That poster too, looks like a fantastic reference photo to hand to an artist – but as a finished product? Nah. But you can 100% explain your vision better to a freelancer if you have some imagery to back it up.
Not just that, but a prompt was needed for all this ‘work’ to be generated, that prompt came from me. The moment AI begins generating its own creative prompts, and running with them is the moment I’ll start screaming, telling everyone to watch Ex Machina before things go any further.
The point is, we can use these to further push our own creative works, to break the hours of staring at the wall because the writer’s block has kicked in, to increase our own productivity – and really feel our ideas out, especially for those who don’t want the pressure of talking to others about them, because they fear their ideas will be stolen, or that they’ll be laughed at before they’re fully realised.
Are there limitations? Yes, those who want to write horror or gore fiction will be shot down at the first hurdle, as those ideas are too violent for the machine to generate. That’s probably a good thing though, we don’t want any AI getting too familiar with murder stories.
Does generating AI art make you an AI Artist, or an AI Writer? No, because that’s dumb. You wrote a few words down. But, if you take those, and use them for something better – like blueprints for a bigger idea, then that I can get on board with.
It does raise other ethical questions too, like ‘Does AI art plagiarise?’ I’ve seen compelling arguments for both the stealing, and inspiration, sides and fall directly into the realm of I don’t know. All I do know is that AI cannot figure out hands, just as starting artists can’t. So, all you graphic designers are still safe for now. My craft is writing, and outside of copy and paste, you can’t tell if your words have been taken and edited, as then is it just influenced prose, or straight stealing?
What is funny though, is that all these arguments about whether the AI owns its art, or the person that entered the prompt, could all boil down to a monkey from Indonesia, named Naruto, that took a selfie of himself on a photographer’s camera. Anime really is taking over the world.
Back to the point, we’re living through a time where we can throw a tantrum about the future, or pick up our tools and see how we can improve our own art by using them. Will machines and AI overthrow us someday? Who knows, but when something this earth shattering comes along and refuses to leave, we might as well all take advantage of it – or risk being left behind by doing things the old way.