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Austin Kleon on Artificial Intelligence in the Arts

While drinking my morning coffee I bumped into a blog post on Artificial Intelligence in the arts by writer Austin Kleon. I thought I would it was thought provoking so I I’m passing it along. Enjoy.

Artificial Intelligence Blog Post by Austin Kleon

A robot drawn by Austin Kleon’s son for him to color, 2017

This note made me laugh. 

“We chose instead to pick the best parts of each… We cut lines and paragraphs, and rearranged the order of them in some places.”

Honey, that means a human wrote this piece.

Writing is editing. It is about making choices.

So you fed a robot a prompt, got eight different “essays,” and stitched together the best parts to make a piece of writing? Congratulations, human! You’ve just outsourced the easiest parts of writing and kept the hardest parts. 

When Nick Cave was asked if AI could create a great song, he emphasized that when we listen to music, we aren’t just listening to the music, we’re listening to the story of the musicians, too:

We are listening to Beethoven compose the Ninth Symphony while almost totally deaf. We are listening to Prince, that tiny cluster of purple atoms, singing in the pouring rain at the Super Bowl and blowing everyone’s minds. We are listening to Nina Simone stuff all her rage and disappointment into the most tender of love songs. We are listening to Paganini continue to play his Stradivarius as the strings snapped. We are listening to Jimi Hendrix kneel and set fire to his own instrument.

What we are actually listening to is human limitation and the audacity to transcend it. Artificial Intelligence, for all its unlimited potential, simply doesn’t have this capacity. How could it? And this is the essence of transcendence. If we have limitless potential then what is there to transcend? And therefore what is the purpose of the imagination at all. Music has the ability to touch the celestial sphere with the tips of its fingers and the awe and wonder we feel is in the desperate temerity of the reach, not just the outcome. Where is the transcendent splendour in unlimited potential? So to answer your question, Peter, AI would have the capacity to write a good song, but not a great one. It lacks the nerve.

https://austinkleon.com/2020/09/10/artificial-intelligence/

By Mark Mosher

Synthesist and Multimedia Artist

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