Back in January, I participated on two AI Art-themed panels panels at ConFusion 2023. I discussed these panel briefly in my ConFusion 2023 follow-up post, but I wanted to add some thoughts here, specifically around ChatGPT and the use of computer generated content in the context of writing.
When it comes to ChatGPT creating content, whether that content be fiction or nonfiction, it does what all of these tools do: remixes previously existing content. I make no claims about whether the thing created by an algorithm is “art” or “creative” or even “new,” but what the new content does not do is transcend its input.
ChatGPT and similar tools are trained by scanning and (hopefully) contextualizing all of the text on the internet. While ChatGPT has (or had) safeguards in place to counter the large amount of hate speech endemic to the modern internet, it still has literally centuries or even millennia of content in its input stream. A great deal of that content is regressive or even revanchist by today’s sensibilities.
And since these machine learning tools can not imagine the new, they will continue to remix the old. Even as new, human-created works become available, this new data is miniscule compared to the vast troves of work on which these tools have already been trained. And a sizeable portion of the new inputs from these tools will be previous output from the same tools, resulting in a sort of solipsism which quickly becomes untethered from any human creativity or input, thus making a large portion of the output of those tools useless except as a point of curiosity.
Additionally, here are a few points of reference:
- That which is called “AI” in these contexts is not artificial intelligence as it is generally understood, but is variously either neural networks, the output of machine learning tools, pattern-matching algorithms, or (usually) some combination of the three, and in all cases the output is the result of running these tools against input which was generated, overwhelmingly but not exclusively, by humans.
- The landscape of AI-generated art, which includes text, music, and visual arts, is rapidly evolving.
- Opinions on the use of AI in the arts, as well as the effects of AI generators upon the profession and livelihood of artists, are wide and varied, and continue to evolve and gain nuance.
Some more links on this general topic:
- Jason Sanford’s Genre Grapevine post on this subject on his Patreon, written around the time of the ConFusion panels
- “AI = BS” at Naked Capitalism
- The 2023 State of the World conversation at The Well
- ChatGPT Is a Blurry JPEG of the Web – Ted Chiang