If you think that AI will outwrite all of us, you’re almost correct.
Personally, I dislike all of these writing assistants, and any technology that purports to automate writing, because they streamline it all to sound almost exactly the same: Neutral, lifeless, generic and efficient. Okay, yeah, it’s what everyone is aiming for whenever they are writing emails for work, or when you receive emails from people, but in the world overrun by bots, uniqueness is key.
Automating writings makes it particularly easy to spot emails writings that have not been written using AI. One dead giveaway is the style, sure. But the other giveaway is the correctness and quality of the writing in the first palce. Putting it in am. Aristotelian way, “higher quality of writing is automatically virtuous”. But in special cases, this does not seem to be the case.
A key technology that catapulted painting into innovation was photography. Artists before this time tried to capture the looks of people, landscapes, flowers, etc. as this was a the measure by which a painting was considered good or bad. With photographs though, you’d get a perfect image, that did not make any mistakes in transferring the view from your eyes, to that of the foil, save for some shading issues.
“Blasphemy!” Artists might have said. “This means that my years of specialised craft of painting realistic portraits is over!” Correct! Well, sort of. People still make hyper realistic drawings today, though, their subtle incorrectnesses are what draws people to look at them. This is something photographs cannot do.
Another art form that has been displaced with technology, is poetry. Poetry used to be wildly popular art form, one of the few narrative art forms available in Ancient Greece. Iconic poems include the Epic of Gilgamesh, The Iliad, Inferno, Paradise Lost, The Raven… all of these are extremely important poems that have stood the test of time. But today, poetry as poetry exists in very niche communities. A winner of Pulitzer Prize for poetry a few years back only sold less than 400 copies when they won, a bizarre notion given how many books are sold every year.
So “is poetry dead”? No! It only morphed into other forms of media. While the recent Dune: Part 1 injected many conversations with excerpts of poetic wisdom from the (fictional) book of Muad’dib and other sources, poetry mainly finds expression today in songwriting. An immense amount of songs that are released in the second half of the 20th century pull at one’s heart strings not (only) because of the melody, which may be a reproduction of some other songs, but because of the meanings of the words used, along with their phonetics.
One might also want to argue that Song writing itself has become streamlined, so that newer musical styles are hard to come by. But they do exist. The challenge to create a unique sound, however, has become increasingly difficult, and will demand a creativity from artists that will become even harder to acquire. But it won’t be impossible. More than ever before, the intelligent, the hard-working, the unique, will prevail.
Writing itself also has this same sort of character, whereby achieving artistic expression is not impossible, but is simply harder to do. Writing articles like this one doesn’t merit artistic quality much. But in order to get to the level of uniqueness and entertainment, idiosyncrasy will be the defining feature of artistic novels, short stories, screenplays and theatre pieces of the future.
“The novel is dead!” Hail multiple sources from a multitude of decades. “Film is done for!” is a phrase we are hearing now, with the mediocre financial successes of any-budget films. Poetry, music, painting, sculpting, design and fashion, are all media threatened by AI. Even if/when AI manages to do everything that humans can, there will always be ways to beat it.
“Happy Accidents”, Bob Ross called them. I call it “Randomness”, other might call it “inspiration”. So while AI might be able to everything we can, it cannot to do so first. Everyone can paint like Rothko. What was important though, was his timing, which is something that AI won’t ever be able to learn.
The reason for this, is that timing depends on data collection from a multitude of sources, many of which aren’t digital, nor ever will be, across the whole spectrum of what makes humans human. If you want to simply draw, you won’t beat it. If you want to write, you won’t beat it. But if you want to create art, to be really, really good at what you do, I have no doubt that you will achieve successes, regardless of your medium. Doing art for art sake has never meant more than it does today, and its human outputs, if given enough attention, will be legendary.