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Insights from Bart

Let's create together, AI

/ 7 min read

I read on Twitter once that in the next 10 years there will be only two professions: an Amazon employee and an artist. Well, it sounds like a ridiculous oversimplification at first, but after devoting some time to this idea, the message behind it speaks volumes. Big companies, based on the network effect, will continue to spread their monopolies across the globe, making us cogs inside a corporate machine. Unless we discover our unique set of skills and interests in order to create demand for our own personal vision.

In the light of today’s exponential growth in the tech sector, things may get even more disturbing. Taking advantage of machine learning and AI, all companies eventually will start to consider these tools as replacement for human labor. Because computers these days can be vastly more effective, reliable, and cheaper and cheaper, it is a matter of time before the market’s mechanisms will adapt to new trends dictated by technological progress.

On the Internet there are many discussions about artificial intelligence’s impact on people’s employment and required skill sets. In most scenarios, it boils down to the idea that we will do what AI isn’t capable of. In every industry, we may experience reorganization and upskilling in order to delegate more exhausting and monotonous tasks to robots while people will adopt more problem-solving-based positions. And in the end, in an extreme case, AI will make all non-creative and non-technical workers useless while the market will reward only well-skilled tech engineers and hyper-creative artists.

Whether we like it or not, this prediction may come true… or it may not.

The replacement or extension?

I have always been an enthusiast of technology. While there are diverse, sometimes even ominous, stories about the domination of robots over humanity in many books and videos which I like a lot, I prefer to look at technological progress through the lens of opportunities rather than threats. For this reason, I don’t believe people will be exchanged for machines any more than I don’t think it’s a thoughtful idea to consider Virtual Reality as the replacement for Real Life as shown in Mark’s vision.

It’s inevitable that all industries will want to benefit from new technologies in the name of optimization and productivity. But still, on some level, people will be irreplaceable. Even in the culture of efficiency, not everything should, and I believe won’t be optimized. Because what about qualities like creativity, taste, ethics, empathy, or problem-solving? Those things, which we really care about implicitly, are inherently inefficient. For humans, as it was said by Kevin Kelly, what we should want to optimize are our possibilities, choices, decisions, and taking advantage of technology, it’s a pretty promising path to follow.

Literally everywhere we achieved enormous progress by combining human’s urge to discover, explore, and experiment, with machines’ reliability and performance. And it’s not only about STEM-related fields where automation is self-explanatory. We are experiencing this integration among domains of everyday life, like taking advantage of virtual reality in education or using AI in the fashion industry.

AI-based technologies are more and more popular and many engineers are working hard to make them even more capable. We told ourselves that technology will be dedicated to handling mundane and repetitive tasks, but what will happen when AI becomes so intelligent that it will dominate humans in more creative and artistic fields? Oh, I forgot, it’s already happening. Who hasn’t heard of Dall-E yet?

Art of Artificial Intelligence

Dall-E is, as mentioned on its home website, a new AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language. You just have to express your artistic idea in words, and AI will generate for you the visual version of it.

I have been intrigued by an article titled Why Dall-E will not steal my job which I have read recently. The author claims that this technology won’t be useful enough when it comes to professional graphic design services. It turns out there is a huge “communication level” gap between what AI may offer and what the business may expect. As a graphic designer, you have to understand the whole story of the vision your client has, with taste, precision, and human-like empathy in the first place.

As mentioned earlier, optimization and efficiency are not the only languages people speak these days. In many areas where computers would be much better than humans like e-sports or chess, we are still more impressed and interested by humans’ abilities and their struggles in pursuing excellence. In the same fashion, we may think about art. Despite the fact that today artists have access to diverse ways and methods of creation unknown in the past, we still admire paintings like the Mona Lisa which is, to this day, a groundbreaking masterpiece created by Leonardo da Vinci and his curiosity about the proportions and anatomy of the human body.

Speaking of Dall-E and art, I don’t think that artists will be forgotten because AI always finds a way to intrigue us more profoundly than humans’ paintings. Competition isn’t the convenient factor we should think about regarding the human-AI relationship.

Because AI is so good at looking at datasets of information and predicting things that humans can’t see, it removes obstacles between our ideas and their visualizations. It answers what’s unanswerable for us. It’s a change in the way we imagine, communicate, and participate in cultural creation, even though it may be quite counter-intuitive yet.

Whether it will be “AI-free art” or “augmented art”, people eventually will find out that they admire not only the results that the eye can perceive, but also the human will to create and express himself regardless of the means of expression used.

Assisting human creation

The ability to create (augment) art is not the only quality that would indicate an advanced level of artificial intelligence’s “creativity”. There are many tools that may be pretty handy when it comes to writing for example. AI may easily prepare a summary of a youtube video or any kind of text you will find. With inventions like Lex or Sudowrite, your ideas may be written easier than it was ever before. And that’s wonderful that we build all of those solutions which stimulate our thinking, optimize our conclusions, and help us name our ideas better.

But still, despite the cleverness of these technologies, they’re still an extension, and people aren’t going anywhere.

”[…] They won’t spit out flawless phrases, but they will help you get closer to your own version of perfection. […] AI writing tools provide writers with possibilities they can discard or build upon. In all cases, tools are assisting human creativity, not replacing it.” - An AI Might Have Written This

”[…] AI is not going to replace writers in any meaningful sense. Sure, they might generate some copy that gets published somewhere, but they lack the active ingredient of writing: a human being who has something they feel is important to say.” - Writing With Machines

Unavoidably we must expect that technology will soon excel us in many aspects of all professions. But we should think about it as an extension of ourselves rather than our competition.

We are experiencing a crucial shift in amplifying the bond between people and technology. Similar as it was with the popularization of electricity in the 1940s, or access to the Internet not that long ago, AI has also become something common, always around us, always on and running in the background.