Taylor Swift will always be bigger than AI

Artificial intelligence will soon have a formidable presence in the arts. DALL-E 2 and Stable Diffusion have demonstrated their ability to generate complex and interesting visual images. There’s already some AI-generated music, and it’s going to get better. There is even talk of dictating a story into a computer and the software generates a digital short film.

The question is whether or to what extent this art will spread, given the diminished role of human creativity. Despite the power of the underlying technologies, these works will have less impact on culture than their defenders think. Consumers and fans want fame to accompany their art – and AI, for all its intelligence, has yet to pull off that trick.

Think about the music. If Taylor Swift’s or Beyonce’s songs had been made by software, without a star on the mic, would they be nearly as popular? It’s no coincidence that Taylor Swift has over 227 million Instagram followers – her fans want more than music, and that extra something (at least so far) has to be provided by a human being. living and breathing.

In the world of visual arts too, collectors often buy the story as much as the artist. Even experts find it difficult to distinguish a real painting by Kasimir Malevich from a fake (he painted abstract black squares on a white background, with minimal detail). The same image and physical object, when connected to the actual artist’s hand, is worth millions – but if it turns out to be a fake, it counts as zero.

It’s possible that the AI-generated art is so good that the world won’t be able to ignore it. Yet even then, his fans will be limited. Monteverdi’s music is quite amazing and attracts millions of people on YouTube. Still, it’s best considered a minor genre rather than a competitor to Justin Bieber or Jay-Z. Quality does not have to prevail. Chess computers are unambiguously better players than humans, and often more exciting, but computer games playing against each other attract far less attention than a match involving Magnus Carlsen.

There will no doubt be many collaborations between AI and human creators, with humans highlighted as the public face of the joint effort. Periodic scandals over authorship will surface (“did he write any part of that song?”), just as allegations of cheating with the AI ​​rose to prominence in chess. AI-generated art will attract the most interest when the aesthetics of the creation and the personality of the human attendant seem to be in sync.

What if a human supervised or “coached” a group of AI creators? Will it appeal to fans? Such methods certainly have their limits. Imagine an NBA with powerful and spectacular human coaches and robots, more adept at dunks and three-point shots than the best humans. It might be a niche in some corner of the sports or esports world, but that won’t move Stephen Curry and LeBron James out of the public eye.

AI creations tend towards combinatorics and pastiche, as they rely on databases of pre-existing images, sounds, and cultural creations. Therefore, AI products might struggle to generate the kind of originality that leads to truly spectacular and intense levels of fandom.

Imagine taking a bloated future version of GPT-3 and feeding it all the text in the world up to the year 1500. Would you expect it to be able to come up with something as important and original than Shakespeare’s plays or Newton’s Three Laws? ? How about Strawberry Fields Forever? Skepticism on this point has hardly been contradicted by recent advances, however impressive they may be.

It almost goes without saying that the ongoing AI revolution is impressive. It is likely to have a huge impact in some parts of the art world, such as the commercial sphere – consumers are generally not interested in the author of a given advertisement or logo. It works or not, and these conditions favor the machine. AI will also provide the world with quality (automated) personal assistants and autonomous vehicles, among many other advances.

But when it comes to arts and culture, which are so tied to social visibility and celebrity, machines are still at a very distinct disadvantage.

More from Bloomberg Opinion:

• Google’s AI videos and our machine-generated future: Parmy Olson

• AI pans my scenario. Can he crack Hollywood? : Trung Phan

• Drug discovery is about to accelerate. Thanks to AI: Lisa Jarvis

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Editorial Board or of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Tyler Cowen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of economics at George Mason University and writes for the Marginal Revolution blog. He is co-author of “Talent: How to Identify the Energizers, Creatives and Winners in the World”.

More stories like this are available at bloomberg.com/opinion

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