Will AI Ever Create Beautiful Art?

Addendum: The rise of OpenAI’s Dall•E 2

July 12, 2022

Addendum to original article posted below, "Will AI Ever Create Beautiful Art?," published October 8, 2019.

The past several years have led to some real innovation in art generated by deep learning algorithms, a form of artificial intelligence (AI). Natural language processing and tagged image inputs, from pretty much the entire internet, have been used to train such algorithms. One AI in particular now stands out: OpenAI’s Dall•E 2. This product is now available to the general public, but does have a waiting list.  

Dall•E 2 has two chief functions: create artwork from processed text, and modify existing images provided to it. The natural language algorithms used by Dall•E 2 are based on the advanced GPT-3 engine. For Dall•E 2, one can enter a description and have a unique art product output. For example, if you wanted  to say, “Mona Lisa made out of jam,” Dall•E 2 would most likely output a strange image of the Mona Lisa made out of jam. One could also upload an image of the Mona Lisa (or anything else), and ask it to make a variation. It may output the Mona Lisa as if it were done by Van Gogh, or it may put the Mona Lisa in the middle of a subway.

Dall•E 2 is very interesting and fun to play with, but is it truly original art from a sentient AI? Alas, no it is not. It is merely using linear algebra and chance to produce unique artwork. It is not truly an artist or truly creative. It does not actually feel anything from the art it produces. It does not feel love, hate, jealousy, happiness, or fear. It cannot produce art like a conscious human being… yet. However, it does demonstrate a move forward in an AI’s ability to create art. It’s just not authentic because all authentic art comes from human consciousness and emotions. AI has no emotions, it only acts like it does.



Will AI Ever Create Beautiful Art?

Originally published October 8, 2019. Addendum "The rise of OpenAI’s Dall•E 2," published July 12, 2022.

The current AI revolution is actually the third act in a play that began back in the 1980s. It suffered an "AI winter," re-emerged in the 1990s, suffered another "AI winter," and re-emerged again in 2013 with the advent of successful neural networks and deep learning. The "AI winter" is terminology attributed back to the 1980s and used to describe a lull in technical progress and investment in the development of AI. So, what’s the difference in the third act? Well, for starters, things are accelerating in AI, not dying off like they have in previous attempts. Winter has not come, and is probably not coming. The key to this “eternal spring” has been the aforementioned neural networks, and its evolution in deep learning.

A neural network (Artificial Neural Network (ANN)), for the lay person, is simply an algorithm and associated data that attempts to emulate the human brain’s neurobiology as a network of artificial neurons/nodes. The creation of a neural network itself is an “art,” as it requires monotonous changes to the model base code and input training data. The neural network henceforth rewrites its internal “code” in perpetuity to achieve more accurate goals. The scary and exciting part for artificial intelligence scientists is during the process of algorithm/model creation; a mysterious black box “learns” from the training process. Unlike normal computer processes (all things being equal), the creation of an artificial model, and its predictions, are never the same twice in a row. It is like the perpetual waves in the ocean that are never quite the same. Original art is beautiful because it is not or should not be the same twice in a row. The inherent mutability of artificial intelligence could lend itself to art. It looks favorable as the AI springtime continues.

As the fear of job loss grows, AI has become the enemy at times. Reactions vary in different part of the world as countries such as Norway have become more accepting of the technology on the assembly lines, but UK workers have started sabotaging the systems and associated robotics. One thing you hear in the employment circles: you must do something inherently human to avoid losing your job; for example, art. Art is inherently human in every capacity and AI is not perceived as such. How could anything that cannot feel or think produce something that can drive the human spirit? Sure, AI can output a digital product either in the form of an action or an actual thing, but there’s no real feeling behind it. It’s simply a mindless actor, at best. Or is it?

"Art is inherently human in every capacity and AI is not perceived as such. How could anything that cannot feel or think produce something that can drive the human spirit?... It’s simply a mindless actor, at best. Or is it?"

Depending on who you want to believe, consciousness is merely a matter of processing. The computer processing power necessary to actually produce consciousness is most likely already available. The algorithm simply is not there yet. Tens of thousands of years ago, humans began to record their journeys on cave walls. They were in the early stages of the brain’s evolution. The same brain improvements that needed to occur in early humans are now only minutes away with the right AI algorithm. Did winter come for the human mind?

Few know the extent of the powerful government computers around the world. The inception of quantum computers is a whole other matter. The truth is that a human will never be the best chess player ever again thanks to AI. Why can’t AI, therefore, eventually compete in the art world as an actual artist? As AI begins to achieve human level consciousness or at least fake it, it’s certainly not inconceivable that it will begin to determine what makes humans want to purchase it. It is still early spring for this. AI, to the best of our knowledge, has only had a few pure art successes in the art world so far.

What would it take to make AI an artist? Data and more complicated algorithms, essentially. Humans are training algorithms at companies such as Google and Microsoft every time we click on something deemed artistic. As the algorithms learn what evokes the most emotion, then we continue the march towards either a digital competitor, the next medium, or a great new assistant. Why would we deny AI its chance to love and produce art as well? Long live the eternal spring as AI tries its best to win your favor and your respect.


Galeria Rodrigo progressive team of artists, developers, and AI scientists serving clients around the globe since 2015.

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