ARTificial Intelligence: Can machine-generated art have depth?

The evolution of art has come a long way, especially with the development of new techniques and elements over time. It has been in our field of vision for quite some time, making art one of the most important characteristics of human existence. Art can come in many forms and is practiced by all cultures across the globe. It has taken on new meanings through concepts such as religion, landmarks and even in politics. But in recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been taking over art, a fear for artists as technology replaces jobs in common fields of human endeavors. 

As AI moves into the field of art and is starting to use algorithms that produce concept pieces, some artists are starting to wonder what it means to be creative, revamping the definition of originality and replacing it with technology. The fear of artificial intelligence being creative has people questioning whether AI has the ability to establish emotions and thoughts. 

AI has been tricky to talk about since it is based off human creativity. In order for AI to create its own art, it needs human elements and ideas to become programmed first. Therefore, AI is an art of its own. Creating AI has taken many years in order to perfect, since it is a very intricate computer program. But to build this software is to build off each other’s ideas – a process mirroring art techniques. It is no wonder people question the originality of a work of art that is produced by AI, because no one knows the true value behind it. Art produced via AI can be done in a matter of minutes whereas human-made art can take a couple of days, months or even years. 

These basic machines produce variations of pre-existing works, confirming that machines are not creating anything original and creating work that is unoriginal. Therefore, coming to the conclusion that creativity and originality can’t be programmed.

To some artists, creativity does not stem from past pieces, but rather, what is different between their techniques. Many artists want to change up their everyday routine and to try different ideas. Art can become repetitive, and AI is something that can help people think differently. Creating something that no one has ever seen before can leave a great impact on somebody’s emotions. AI has the ability to stem conversations and different perspectives on art that handmade art cannot do. Art is supposed to move people and having something as unique as AI has moved us to the new virtual reality we are living in. 

“It could be argued that the ability of machines to learn what things look like, and then make convincing new examples, marks the advent of 'creative' AI. After all, if we enjoy a piece of music or artwork, why should it be disturbing to know that it was entirely machine-made?” according to CNN. As previously mentioned, art should not be “disturbing” even if it is made by AI, it is a fairly new concept and we should be taking it as a progress in the technology and artistic fields. 

To some artists, AI will never come close to art. A machine simply cannot encompass emotion or ideology in a simple painting. But, Professor Ahmed Elgammal in the Department of Computer Science and founder of the Art and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Rutgers University—New Brunswick “has spent five years teaching his artificial intelligence program to create original artwork,” according to CBS. Elgammal considers himself “the artist in setting up the framework. The machine itself explores the possibilities and gives me answers. So, the machine has a part of the creative process," he said.

How are we sure Pablo Picasso didn’t steal ideas from Claude Monet? As technology advances, we will never be sure of the definition of art and creativity, as well as the emotion behind art. Will this emotion still be there if we continue to use AI? Art has always been up to interpretation, so believing that AI is unique is up to the eye of the beholder. 

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