There is an amazing amount of hype around recent developments in AI. Dall-E 2 and GPT-3 are poised to threaten the careers of artists and writers for being able to generate illustrations and writing on the fly with simple prompts.
Before you start to hammer out an eight paragraph essay on why I’m wrong and suck at life, here’s my prediction for this technology:
AI will make it harder for artists, writers, and yes, even musicians to earn money.
Artists already have a hard time making money. See, to make money, we have to write and draw what you, the Consumer, wants. If our work is inedible, no money. Some people are fantastic at churning out delicious, palatable art, art you can slap on a Coca-Cola can and barely make a dent in the diabetes statistics of San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Art you could bring home to your mother and she’d be like “that’s nice . :)” – she’s dead but you’ve revived her voice with Alexa and Alexa has better taste in art than she ever did.
For most of humanity, making “art” like this is a soul-sucking, life-destroying process. You know that without my snark. I don’t need to frame this, I’m just having fun.
We learn very early what it means to be an artist. I think most of us get immersed in middle-school career counseling and see straight through the bullshit idea that you can “make it” while still producing anything meaningful to us as individuals – the washed up musician, the writer struggling to remain true to their message, the artist that can’t sell a landscape or a silly, overwrought multimedia work they poured months of work into are such common tropes in media that it’s impossible to avoid the message for long:
if you make art, you will probably die alone and sad, and also heroin.
So I’m sorry, I’m failing to see any significant difference in AI churning out corporate, digestable, consumable art. Art is already a bullshit job. Art and music school is a long, exhausting process designed to convince you that it’s ok to participate in this charade. To make yourself “marketable,” sacrifice the miniscule amount of time you have available as a sentient sack of goo to churn out Mrs. Buttersworth logos and music for ass-cream commercials.
If AI is set to disrupt this industry, the only difference I can see is that the rich yuppies that can risk hundreds of thousands of dollars on throwing away their life for graphic design are feeling the brunt of automation for once too. Welcome to the 20th century, the shoes are cheap and so is life.
This went nowhere because there’s nowhere to go. That wasn’t the stinger, there is no satisfying “and yet,” we’re all pouring ungodly amounts of computational resources into devouring this last pretense that the industrial revolution is sustainable. And honestly, the accelerationist in me is just laughing my ass off.