I was thinking about the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution and how robots and automation will take over most if not all human jobs. But what about mine? The fiction writer. Or any other kind of artist: painter, musician, actor, etc… Will robots replace humans in creating art?
I first thought, no, a robot can’t write an authentic account of the human condition. AI could certainly write cookie-cutter pulp fiction. The kinds of dumbed-down paint-by-numbers books, movies, and TV shows that are just retreads and amalgams of older books/movies/TV shows that people liked before. This is what a lot of authors do today. They write to the market, delivering readers exactly what they want, over and over again, with slight variations, almost like ad-libs. It’s also what TV procedurals like CSI, NCIS, and Law & Order do. And the same applies to pop music and other art forms. The least common denominator version of an art form is often the most popular. I would think AI could eventually become even better at producing that kind of “art” than humans.
But to create something new and original—true art… I’m less sure AI will be able to ever do that at the same level as humans. AI can replicate a work of art, but can they create a wholly original work of art?
Then again, no art is truly original. Every work of art ever created was based on the artist’s entire life experiences, including all the art they saw, read, and heard. AI can do the same thing. Enter the same inputs of experiences and influences, and they can cut and combine them to make something “original.” That would mean AI could create art, write novels, and compose music to compete with humans.
But… In that kind of world, where robots are equal to humans, the human condition will change. The type of art humans create will constantly evolve to reflect whatever it is AI is currently unable to do. That’s essentially what art has always done. It’s why the Mona Lisa is art, but an exact copy of the Mona Lisa is not.
Art began as cave paintings and has constantly improved to become more complex and sophisticated, to the point that we now have 3-D movies and virtual reality. Humans will always be at the forefront, pushing the boundaries of what art is and can do, until AI catches up and replicates it. Then humans will move on to push the boundary further, and so on and so on.
So there is hope for human artists after the robot revolution. My job should be safe, as long as I continually evolve as an artist.
Then again, there’s the 99.9% chance that we are currently living in a simulation, meaning every work of art ever created by humans was essentially created by AI. So…