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Why We Need Artificial Intelligence in The Arts
How AI can help us create better art
We are not living in a dystopia like Neuromancer or in a utopia like Cowboy Bebop.
We don’t have anime realism and Eurasian futurism. …Not yet.
I don’t think I will see it in my lifetime. Although I see the historical development of Eurasian escapism and anime aesthetics taking over all aspects of post-capitalism and socialist dreaming.
With that comes the development of Artificial Intelligence, or “AI,” that will help us accelerate towards a better society than we have now. Either the elite will use AI as a means to further push managerialism as a cultural pinnacle of liberalism, or, AI will give use to transhumanist technology that will let us grow as magical beings. It’s not like we are all going to become lazy and rely on robots to do everything for us. Far from it. Instead, we will incorporate the medium of AI into the art we craft.
This, in turn, means we must rely on dependent resources, like electricity, at any given time, and without it, we can’t have AI, unless there is a further advancement in battery life and design. I need electricity to produce electronic music. Without electricity, I can’t do my art. And the same should be said about AI in the arts. Technology must advance to a point where like a small smartphone or robotic pet, AI is there, like a Swiss Army Knife, always there for us, that can help us create better works of art.
In the grand scheme of things, for example, we need AI to help us create anime realism.
But there is also a bad novelty, and technology can never stick around forever. I can think of embarrassing failures like Isaac Asimov's Robots VCR/VHS Mystery Game, or XCOM: The Board Game’s mandatory use of an app to track statistics. We don’t need to rely on VHS tapes or yesteryear smartphones with AI, just for the record.
We rather have reached the end of "the writer" as a profession. Instead of using the English language as a means of commercial news or selling products, English can be used as a means of personal expression. We don’t have to write mundane newsletters, clickbait articles, or government procedure papers. If these jobs were created out of thin air, the “diamond-water paradox” is a real crisis against capitalism. A subjective theory of value fluctuates over time as technology accelerates. We can now focus on our blogs, memoirs, and creative expression of the self at the expense of producing meaningless products for the system.
Sure, AI can construct novels too. But let AI do the boring work of data collecting and writing records. Let AI emulate the fashionable model constructed in the consumer’s mind. We don’t need to be whores anymore. Humanity should focus on the arts, and value shall be displaced from our integrity.
Consumers toying with AI art is a good thing. Those “talented tenth” of artists have not only secluded themselves from the rest of society but made it their mission to attack those who are “artistically inclined.” Why should we measure those with talent? Skill is something we learn and apply, but talent comes naturally. We can learn skills through school or institutions, but what skills are needed drift with the subjective shifting of value. As AI becomes smarter, value will be displaced. AI can learn new skills, but it can’t take over the unique talent everyone possesses.
Writing is a skill that people have to learn. If we rely on AI to do everything for us, like writing, we will become lazy and unfulfilled. Like going to the gym or exercising, we need to gain muscles and increase our skills for personal benefit and not for systematic value. This requires a culture that wants to focus on the arts and self-improvement that has established security through AI communism. Currently, we are in a neoliberal capitalist state that provides a “synthetic left” culture and a universal basic income state with trust funds and donations. Most of us are not secure, and we have to rely on money to get anything done. Those who went to expensive art schools have nothing to lose because they came from wealth, and whatever “investments” are made are completely subjective to the self. AI, however, is not about talent, but about creating the worthless art for us that we would rather not make.
AI helps the arts in many ways, with game design, electronic music, computer visuals, modular or random interfaces, and other innovative tricks. AI, by definition, is a “post-elegant” system of creation. The quality of simplicity, goodwill, and neatness cannot be squeezed down further into the “ingenious” style of minimalism, which we call “elegance.” Minimalism cannot simplify the complicated. AI can compute and hold many operations, changing the simple choice between “yes” or “no,” into a quantum level of multiple and diverse outcomes. It is no longer elegant that can be comprehended by humans playing a physical tabletop Eurogame, but AI goes beyond normal human comprehension and transforms elegance into the Dune-esque discipline of the mentat, or, the human-computer. We have to ask if this is a good thing, or a bad thing, for humanity.
I believe that my post-graduate education revolved around the impact of AI and its influence in arts and politics, and in particular, through the study of board game design, and the arrogant push to try and simplify complicated formulas into mentat equations of a yes or no binary through design. Higher education was warning me, that if I am to understand the future of artistic innovation, it shall be all done through the work of AI. I must learn how to manage AI to work in my favor and to remind people of humanity through play, an activity that Miguel Sicart expressed through his study, Play Matters. Currently, the Meta corporation is splurging money to fund its AI named “Cicero” to play the board game Diplomacy at this human level. In my opinion, this is the beginning of post-elegance, exactly like the origins of postmodernity being discussed in the 1980s. Postmodernity was a result of a technological shift in intellectualism and culture. The same could be said about the arts with AI, as the Dieter Rams style of operational form of social control is losing relevance.
We shouldn’t be worshipping the simplified. Rather, we have to understand our complex and sophisticated emotions as human beings. This sounds contrarian, even reactionary, against AI and the arts. At times, we do need a simple press of a button to get the boring work done for us. However, we need the vitality of humanity expressing the highest form of sophisticated thoughts and expressions, communicating beauty towards our subjective aesthetic senses. Whether this is “good” art or “bad” art is up to the viewer. What matters is that we have new AI mediums to work with.
Instead of randomly generating an entire song, or taking another AI sample and claiming it as yours, think of this AI template as the beginning of a deeper expression towards something greater. This isn’t about the decadent and depraved downfall of a lazy managerial society, it’s that AI can be used to help and advance expressions that couldn’t be done before.
Cool and artsy Wes Anderson comedy shorts, like Planet Mountain Dew (by Dankchungus), are made entirely with AI. Or what about Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin singing Mustard & Roddy Ricch’s Ballin? This work of surreal art was done and programmed by humans. It may require a simple press of the button, but it is “post-elegant” in that these complicated outcomes are becoming an overnight reality.
AI is the first step towards transhumanism. I’m not a transhumanist myself, but the outcome will accelerate the argument between liberalism and conservatism. This is a good thing, as the argument will belittle the postmodern world, and help us embrace the transhumanist one. Liberalism will rely on AI for its justification of a “custom reality,” while conservatism will seek identity and moral foundation against the corruption of the technologically perverted.
I’m not a fan of liberalism either. It’s a matter of incorporating AI into our artistic endeavors while seeing the destruction of capitalism, managerialism, and liberalism in front of our eyes because of our AI use.
I would rather rely on AI to write a propaganda college essay for me than pay for someone to do it for me. I can sharpen the edges of the knife, knowing that I will throw it into the beast I hate.