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AI and Creativity - Friends or Enemies?

Are AIs here to help or hinder us?

As AI applications continue to grow and impress us in a seemingly uninhibited way, questions have begun to arise as to whether they are helpful or a hindrance. Hot topics include job security, copyright infringement and the inherent lack of moral obligation that an AI has. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at AI in creative fields and whether it's a force for good or an imposition.

AI in Art

The concept of art being produced by non-human entities is not a new one. Elephants, dolphins, rabbits and even donkeys are among just a few animals that have been handed a paintbrush over the years to create some semblance of artwork. AARON, a set of computer programs designed to create artistic images, was created back in 1973 by Harold Cohen. Nowadays, AI is allowing us to explore this avenue even more deeply. 

Programs like Dall-E 2 and Midjourney are capable of producing some fantastic results. However, the process by which they do so has given rise to some heated debates among the art community. These programs are given keywords, which they then use to search through the internet, take existing pieces of artwork and mash them all together into something that is usually coherent. The main issue here is that many artists feel that their work is being taken, replicated or used without credit, permission or even acknowledgement. At times, these AI art programs even replicate an artist’s signature or watermark. Furthermore, AI are not subject to laws and therefore, if an artist feels like a copyright has been infringed, who do they sue?

AI in Writing

AI has made tremendous advancements in recent years in its ability to generate human-like text. As a result, AI writing is becoming more common, with companies and organisations employing it to generate everything from social media copies to financial reports. The text these AI are capable of generating is almost impossible to differentiate from that of a human writer, which is naturally causing some professional writers to have concerns about the safety of their jobs going into the future. In the academic world, AI writers are also causing quite a stir, as traditional methods of plagiarism detection don’t work on texts produced by an AI. Students are using AI to get A’s for their essays in a matter of minutes by simply giving a few prompts to a program; the AI is even capable of creating citations, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully.

AI in Music

Artificial neural networks, which are vast sets of bits (small units of information), are used by music AIs to try to replicate how the brain functions. You can essentially bombard this neural network with music in order to train it to recognise patterns, in much the same way the human brain does when it is constantly exposed to new information. However, this process requires an immense amount of energy, giving AI generated music a significant environmental cost. While it is entirely possible for an AI to produce music independently, this “music” may not be something that we as humans enjoy and as such the role of AI in music is still a supplementary one. A healthy relationship between a human musician and an AI is even capable of producing new material from dead musicians. The problem again returns to the legality and morality of the process. Provided, musicians have given permission to have their works sampled or used to train an AI and have been given due payment and credit there should be no issue.

In summary, AI could be a fantastic aide to artists of all disciplines provided it can adhere to a set of rules/guidelines or even laws which ensure that the artists are using the AI responsibly and that the AI itself is being trained only by those artists who permit it. Legal issues regarding copyrights also need to be established and monitored. Conversely if AI continues to develop along its current path of immoral and in many cases illegal methods of data usage, it will cause an array of problems for artistic industries and the human professionals that work therein.



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