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Brushes down, bytes up

April 12, 2024 at 4:00:00 PM

Bauhinia Chen '26

Since its inception, artificial intelligence has extended to many fields, rapaciously superseding humans in competency. AI is often described as mechanical, soulless, and unimaginative, bound within the confines of unemotional computations. In recent years, however, it made its way into the realm of art, a form of human creation that is the antipode of precise analysis and rigid algorithms. Most artists are disaffected by this occurrence and deem the introduction of AI to have wreaked havoc upon the community.

Although AI is indeed supplanting artists in some commercial areas, it shouldn’t be dismissed or considered inferior. Instead, AI deserves praise and appreciation. I argue that AI art is often better than what humans can produce. Of course, whether something is good or bad is subjective. However, a machine is objectively more technically skilled than humans, because it isn’t fettered the constraints of time, impatience, and human errors. The systems are quick, precise, and able to incorporate as much detail as directed. An AI program produces every work to impeccable standards within seconds. Its level of ornateness is nonpareil. While many attack AI art for lacking emotional depth, I find that the pieces are often brimming with feeling. Artificial intelligence is exceptionally good at capturing a strong ambiance with elaborate composition, dramatic lighting, and harmonious hues. They aren’t mechanical and insipid, but on the contrary, dynamic and beguiling. The incredible artistic prowess of AI facilitates its delivery of emotions and mesmerizes viewers with beautiful, heart-touching scenes. 

One of the main sources of abhorrence towards AI art is how it uses real artists’ works in machine learning without permission. While many see this as a reprehensible act of theft, I beg to differ. AI is simply doing what human artists do – learning through observation. By processing thousands of works of art, AI is taking inspiration from them. People scorn it for being unoriginal but forget that; as humans, we also learn by emulating countless other works or photos. None of us is truly original. We take inspiration from artists we like, sometimes even subconsciously, from everything we see daily. Our style is molded through accumulated practice. Our eyes are like AI algorithms, taking in and digesting what we see. In that sense, machine learning is scarcely different from how humans learn. 

Many artists dismiss AI art because they are jealous and reluctant to accept that humans are less competent. Instead of appreciating AI’s excellence, they perceive it as a threat. For decades, though AI has outstripped humans in many areas, it remained an inferior and innocuous existence as we thought that they would never be able to be creative and have feelings like human beings. However, the advent of AI-generated art means that AI increasingly emulates us in areas most exclusive to humanity – the ability to create and imagine. To defend the pride of humans, the art community discredits AI-generated art. Seeing that an inanimate machine can do what they do but even better, it is no wonder that artists are filled with resentment. They feel abased that something devoid of life and soul can surpass them in something as profound and emotional as artistic expression. I advise the art community to jettison the jealousy. Instead of disparaging it like a bitter loser would to their contender, recognize its competence and embrace its beauty.

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