Artificial Intelligence and the Death of Creativity

written by Ken Preston | Creativity

July 14, 2023

Artificial Intelligence is coming not just for your job but your creativity too. When computers can do everything, what will be left for humans to do?

Here is a prediction about AI and how it will impact the creative industries:

Our music streaming services will be filled with AI generated songs. Dead actors will be brought back to life and perform in movies written by an AI bot and probably directed by one, too. We will visit galleries to see AI created art and then return home to hang our own AI generated art on our walls.

And we will never lack a new novel to read as a daily tsunami of new books will make today’s publishing tidal wave look like a trickle of dirty water in a dried-up river bed.

This might sound like a far off dystopian (or maybe utopian, depending on your point of view) future, but the harsh fact is it’s not that far away.

In fact, it’s happening right now.

Take music as our first example, and this article from Ted Gioia:

The number of songs in the world doubled yesterday. Did you even notice?
An artificial intelligence company in Delaware boasted, in a press release, that it had created 100 million new songs. That’s roughly equivalent to the entire catalog of music available on Spotify.
It took thousands of years of human creativity to make the first 100 million songs. But an AI bot matched that effort in a flash.

At the movies, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny starts with a twenty-minute sequence featuring a de-aged Harrison Ford punching Nazis and running and fighting atop a speeding train. Not bad for an eighty-year-old.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny featuring a de-aged Harrison Ford

Midjourney creates visually appealing art with a tap of a few computer keys and a tiny amount of patience (it takes less than sixty seconds to generate an image).

An image of a Robot Writing a Novel, generated by Midjourney

And Amazon is being swamped with a deluge of AI written books.

an AI Generated Book for sale on Amazon

Welcome to the future, here today. People are already yesterday’s technology. Not long now until we no longer need to create anything and we can spend the rest of our lives simply consuming.

Sounds like a nightmare to me.

And one that I optimistically predict will not come to pass.

Using AI to create music or books is all about quantity and speed. One hundred million songs created in an afternoon! A picture book for children created in a couple of hours! Faster! More!

No one here is talking about the spark of human creativity, that mysterious amalgam of lived experience, flights of fantasy, the need to reach for something unattainable, that brings about a song or a story. A creation that connects with the listener, the reader.

Here is director and writer Jim Jarmusch on picking two words to live by:

Fast, Cheap, and Good… pick two. If it’s fast and cheap it won’t be good. If it’s cheap and good, it won’t be fast. If it’s fast and good, it won’t be cheap. Fast, cheap and good … pick two words to live by.

AI is all about fast and cheap. It’s why Amazon is flooded by books written like this:

AI Generated Book Excerpt on Amazon

I’m not worrying about AI taking away my job, not yet anyway. And perhaps the tsunami of AI generated creative pieces will finally work against it, against the relentless pursuit of fast and cheap in the name of profit.

We seek connection. In the face of an uncaring world filled with tragedy, we search for meaning. And sometimes we find that connection and meaning in art, in music and literature, at the movies.

Here is Nick Cave talking about how he returned to writing songs after the death of his teenage son Arthur.

But what had collapsed? What is at the centre of our lives? In an artist’s case (and perhaps it is the same for everybody), I would say it is a sense of wonder. Creative people in general have an acute propensity for wonder. Great trauma can rob us of this, the ability to be awed by things. Everything loses its sheen and appears beyond our reach. We were surviving, but we were surviving in exile on the perimeter of our lives, way beyond anything that mattered.
We all needed to draw ourselves back to a state of wonder. My way was to write myself there.
So how do we return to our lives – to the awe of existence – and reclaim a sense of wonder? Well, for me, it had something to do with work but it also had something to do with community. Work and community. I kind of realised that work was the key to get back to my life, but I also realised that I was not alone in my grief and that many of you were, in one way or another, suffering your own sorrows, your own griefs. I felt this in our live performances. I felt very acutely that a sense of suffering was the connective tissue that held us all together. It was these two things – community and work – that showed Susie and me a way forward. Work became the lifelines thrown out to us as we floated lost in narcissism and self-absorption.

Artificial Intelligence can never provide connection and meaning. It doesn’t have the lived experience that humans have. It is not complicated by warring emotions or conflicting ideological concepts; it does not have relationships and cannot seek connections.

Faced with that tsunami of AI generated content, I believe that people will turn away and seek out the work created by actual humans. And left to stagnate, the books and music created through the fast and cheap method will sink to the bottom of our cultural life, and that the tidal wave of AI generated content will slow down to an eventual trickle.

Anyway, after spending a good few hours working on this blog post, I decided to ask ChatGPT to write the article for me.

The result is about as bland and tepid as I expected:

Title: The Potentially Destructive Impact of AI on Human Creativity
Introduction: Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly emerged as a transformative technology, revolutionising various aspects of human life. While AI offers numerous benefits, there is a growing concern that it may eventually impede human creativity. This essay explores the potential destructive impact of AI on humanity's creativity, examining the limitations and risks associated with the increasing reliance on AI-generated content and the potential devaluation of human originality and innovation.
AI as a tool, not a Creator: AI, by its very nature, is a tool developed to enhance human capabilities. It possesses the ability to process vast amounts of data, recognise patterns, and generate content based on learned algorithms. However, AI lacks the intuitive and emotional aspects of human creativity. It lacks the ability to experience genuine emotions, personal struggles, and the intrinsic motivations that drive artistic expression. Consequently, AI-generated content may lack the depth, soul, and authentic human touch that is often present in artistic endeavours.
Homogenisation of Creative Output: The growing reliance on AI in creative fields poses the risk of homogenising artistic expression. AI algorithms are primarily trained on existing datasets and patterns, resulting in the reinforcement of prevailing trends and styles. This can limit the diversity and originality of creative output, as AI tends to generate content that aligns with popular preferences rather than pushing boundaries or challenging established norms. Consequently, the uniqueness and diversity of human creativity may gradually diminish as AI becomes the predominant source of inspiration.
Diminished Value of Human Originality: As AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, there is a risk of devaluing human originality and innovation. Human creativity, with its complexities and imperfections, has long been revered and celebrated. However, the proliferation of AI-generated art, music, literature, and other creative works may lead to a perception that human contribution is less valuable or even replaceable. This could undermine the recognition and appreciation of human creativity, ultimately diminishing the incentives for individuals to pursue their artistic passions.
Dependency on AI Tools: The convenience and efficiency of AI tools may inadvertently discourage individuals from developing their creative skills. With AI-driven solutions readily available, the temptation to rely solely on automated tools for generating content may discourage individuals from investing time and effort into honing their artistic abilities. Consequently, a decline in the cultivation of creative skills among individuals may occur, leading to a potential erosion of human creativity on a broader scale.
Loss of Serendipity and Exploration: Creativity often thrives on serendipitous discoveries, unexpected connections, and the exploration of the unknown. AI algorithms, while proficient in recognising patterns, may struggle to replicate the serendipitous nature of human creative processes. The algorithmic nature of AI could inadvertently limit the exploration of alternative perspectives and the generation of unconventional ideas. This loss of serendipity and exploration could stifle human creativity, as the element of surprise and the joy of discovery are essential components of the creative journey.
Conclusion: While AI holds immense potential in various domains, its increasing integration into creative fields raises concerns about the potential destruction of human creativity. The limitations of AI as a tool, the homogenisation of creative output, the devaluation of human originality, the dependency on AI tools, and the loss of serendipity and exploration all contribute to the potential risks faced by human creativity. To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to strike a balance between AI-driven innovation and the preservation of the intrinsic qualities that make human creativity unique and invaluable.

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