Across the world, machines have been rapidly taking over the jobs that were once meant for people. Everything from manufacturing to taxi and truck driving seems to be threatened by the advancement of machine learning. However, one sector remained relatively confident that it would not be usurped by machines: the arts.
After all, to engage in art it is required, one might think, to have a soul. In addition, the arts require the use of emotional intelligence toward its creation, expression and appreciation. Art is not accidental or random, but must be imbued with a kind of spiritual energy in order to affect an audience. Right?
It turns out that the conception of art as exclusively living in the human realm is as much an idea from the past as remembering your friend’s phone numbers. The truth is, machines can create amazing and surprising art without the aid of humans and their emotional spontaneity.
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What arts are being invaded by machines?
Nearly every form of artwork has been touched by artificial intelligence with varying degrees of success. More technical artforms in the fine arts like painting and sculpting may seem more simple for a machine to emulate. Even music, which lives in a mathematical continuum of notes and staves, would seem to be something an algorithm could recreate and still imbue with something that sounded akin to what might be created by a master. However live arts like dance and theatre, as well as literary arts of narrative and screenwriting have also been attempted by artificial intelligence.
Invaluable.com put together a list of the artistic capabilities of computer generated intelligence.
How does AI Artwork Work?
After capturing thousands and thousands of aesthetic elements like sounds or images, artificially intelligent machines most often use a process that uses generative adversarial networks (GAN) to create a piece of art.
GANs pit two computer intelligences, known as the generator and discriminator, against each other. The generator tries to create random objects or sounds and while the discriminator matches these to realistic images based on a data set. For example, GAN can use a data set of anime characters to create its own characters or take language to create sentences and paragraphs that replicate narrative styles of a famous author or a genre.
Art of Making AI Art
Instead of fearing the next generation of computer artisans, AI artists have begun to appreciate how AI art can enrich their own talents or harness human thought processes to create more individualized works. Artist, Anna Ridler for example, uses AI to generate surprising videos from her thousands of photos of tulips.
In “Hello, Hi There” Theater director Annie Dorsen relies on AI to create a theatrical piece that is never the same from night to night. Every performance, chatbots that have been programed to talk like Michel Foucault and Noam Chomksy are released upon each other to create a compelling work of spontaneous theater.
The Eye of The Beholder
While it may become partially the prerogative of machines to create art, for the foreseeable future it still requires a human mind to appreciate that art. In this way, those that are programming machines to create their own esoteric works are still relying on a very human interaction. Similar to the idea of a machine crafting what appears to be a meaningful narrative from what it sees on an individual journey, every art can be augmented and perhaps even expanded by using a machine brain in conjunction with a human soul.
The infographic below demonstrates many ways the humans and computers are now working together to craft the next generation of artistic expression.