Is Art a Last Frontier For AI?
Culture, X-Article

Is Art a Last Frontier For AI?

Art and creativity could become new domains for AI and computing.

The metaverse is already being rolled out and all it needs is a mass adoption by the population. It still has a long road ahead when you think of the things that are going to be done in the metaverse. The economy, the work that can be done, the social aspects, the art that is going to take place there, and the role that AI and Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) will have in the metaverse.

Now, there is a lot of artistic endeavors taking place in the metaverse. Designing it and the assets that populate this virtual world require artists that produce them. AI will also have a very important role inside the metaverse, as it will require some degree of automated interactions. As it is, all tech companies have automated their customer support systems via bots or referring to help articles. One would expect that, since bringing the metaverse to life is such a tech-oriented enterprise, all customer support and interactions are going to have AI behind it.

Doing such AI research and innovations will surely bring more uses. And one that is certain to question our own humanity is when AI and art start merge in a more mainstream way (because, if you haven’t found out, there is plenty of AI art out there). Especially, when AI starts to perform creative actions. Like create new business models, new pieces of artwork, pitch ideas to expand the metaverse, design new assets, or create new economies. And so, we will have to ask ourselves what it is that makes a human so unique.

Computational creativity

As a matter of fact, there is a whole field of study and research within AI that is dedicated to producing creative Artificial Intelligence entities. Computational creativity looks to create software that exhibits behavior one could call creative. The software could propose a new mathematical theory, paint a picture, write a poem, or compose music. There’s also interesting knowledge that this field is looking to bring forth. Computational creativity looks to understand human creativity, and provide a program that is going to help with any creative endeavor. But now, instead of an actual tool, we’d be talking about collaboration with a creative entity.

Detractors of such a field argue that to simulate artistic techniques is to simulate human thinking and reasoning, and creative thinking. For them, simulating creative thinking cannot be done through the use of algorithms and data processing. But, as Ramón López de Mántaras —from the Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, Bellaterra, Spain— says in a paper published in BBVA Open Mind, “creativity is not some mystical gift that is beyond scientific study but rather something that can be investigated, simulated, and harnessed for the good of society.”

Within the AI research field, there’s group of people that are absolutely convinced that AI can collaborate with people in the creative industry. That’s a massive leap for society and humans, regardless of what you think of what creativity is, and whether it escapes or not scientific study.

AI designing the metaverse and impacting the world

As AI becomes more creative (as there is a specific field of study looking to achieve this) one would have to expect that programs and computing will start to shape the world.

Perhaps it should be expected that this creativity will be harnessed for the shaping and expansion of the virtual world: the metaverse and videogames. AI that creates the look and feel of this world through its own artistic creations. It could also provide a new narrative to a videogame, in accordance of what the player has chosen to do. Finally, it could also have an impact on the physical world, as it might propose new business models or policies to address climate change, for example.

Is AI creating art? Or does it help with the creation of art?

Throughout the history of our species, we have created a massive archive of cultural output and artwork. They tell the story of our struggles and biases. This archive is the input for most artificial intelligences that create art. It could be said that AI art is an art of databases. What is being used is the wealth of artistic creations that has been created in the past, to create something new. Perhaps it could replace art or artists, but that is hardly what happened when photography was invented. Photography ushered in a way to rethink painting, and if it should only be for reproducing of reality. That brought in movements like abstract paintings and cubism. And photography itself later became an artform, as what matters is the eye directing the camera. Well, AI and algorithms have made it a lot easier to create visual art, something that those with the training might resent. Especially after an AI-generated painting, Théâtre D’Opéra Spatial, won a Colorado State Fair competition. But still, it might have the same effect that photography had on art.

The debate surrounding AI and art is one that will probably be had for a while. Even though it can automate the process of creative creation, we still have to see an actual machine choosing to become an artist and create something on its own. For now, it is still a tool for humans, albeit one that might collaborate and not just be used.

The Prague Castle, Monet style, generated by Milan Prucha, SOPRG.

The bottom line

It is likely that AI takes over some of the most industrialized aspects of art. Like industrial designs or stock image creation for media outlets. But when it comes to art for art’s sake, for now there is still a long way to go for computational creativity to completely replace an artist. After all, for Théâtre D’Opéra Spatial to win the Colorado Sate Fair competition in the Digital Category, the Midjourney AI required the input from a human. It still lacks the purpose that humans have. Maybe purpose and choice are what ultimately will make AI a true artist.

But after all, you can always come back to SOPRG for true art made by living artists.

Article brought to you by the SOPRG gallery operating in Somnium Space metaverse – on behalf of the gallery – Milan & Gustavo.

October 11, 2022

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