During AER’s event on artificial intelligence (AI) attendees broke into five roundtable discussion groups, each addressing an area of AI important to stakeholders. The group titled the culture in the digital age discussed the progression of AI generated art and its future role in the creative arts industry. For an hour, topics such facilitating collaboration between AI and artists to what AI’s impact on our conception of art animated conversations.
The group was fortunate to have a wide range of contributors who are well versed in a relatively new area of AI. Moderating the group was Christophe de Jaeger, Director of Gluon. Gluon brings together academics, artists, entertainers, and innovators to provide an opportunity for them to learn from one another and grow together, putting on exhibitions to showcase artists’ AI related projects.
Also from Gluon was Artistic Program Manager Ramona van Gansbeke who brought first-hand knowledge of the needs of artists and how AI is being used in the creative arts industry. Bringing expertise on culture’s role in society was Katherine Heid, the Secretary General of Culture Action Europe. Culture Action Europe ensures that culture remains at heart of the public debate and decision-making by running action oriented campaigns, meetings, and conferences. Finally, numerous regional policy makers provided insight into the ways in which regions have adapted to the changing cultural environment.
Areas of Continuity and Change
Katherine Heid believes that AI will become a tool increasingly used by creative arts industry to enrich culture. Indeed, the process of integration of AI into the creative arts industry is already underway with AI being employed to create art ranging from paintings, to literature, to music. While AI programmes are not capable of producing music capable of topping the charts, Ms. Heid does envision a future where AI generated music is used in more subtle ways.
One way she says this will occur is in the advertising industry where AI generated music is utilised to suit the context of ads. Ms. Heid also sees AI tool for engaging people in the creative arts industry. With AI’s ability to perform complex art analysis and provide new insights into old paintings, AI will help inform art historians and the public about art.
Despite the imminent changes in the creative arts industry, Ramona van Gansbeke believes there are innate human qualities which a machine cannot replicate, comparing it to the arrival of computers in the 60s and 70s. While the early years of digital technology allowed for the automation of certain elements in professions such as graphic design, humans remained the masterminds behind the projects. Ramona believes the fourth industrial revolution will be similar. A machine’s algorithms can learn the required inputs to create art, but the passion and creativity from artists’ which produce pieces that evoke an emotional response will remain exclusively human Ramona van Gansbeke claimed. At the very least AI is a long way off from possessing these qualities.
Pierre Gerard from the Brussels Capital Region affirmed this view using the example of Cubase music recording software which predicts the next notes in a song based on what has been played previously, helping to create music. For Mr. Gerard, by only following recommendations of the program, which represents just one of many possible notes in a sequence, artists risk constraining their creativity.
Ms. Heid countered by citing a recent study where in a blind test, humans were unable to distinguish between AI generated art and human art, even rating AI’s art higher in some cases. If AI created art and human art continues to be indistinguishable humans may have to redefine what creativity means.
One challenge which was identified was for artists seeking to use AI in their work. Although artists are comfortable working with AI, their understanding of the technology behind it remains superficial. Increasing their understanding beyond a functional level could potentially allow more meaningful collaboration between artists and the technology to occur. For artists to gain a better understanding of AI, new networks for interdisciplinary collaboration will have to be established.
Currently, a problem for artists is the cost associated with setting up exhibitions for their AI related work. One barrier is the cost of purchasing APIs which can make running exhibitions prohibitively expensive. Bringing down the price point of APIs for artists will be a goal policy makers and companies can work towards. Another challenge is the acquiring the infrastructure needed to set up an exhibition, which can be a time-consuming affair.
Finally, an obstacle the creative arts community will have to confront are negative perceptions about AI which produce anxiety around its development. These can be fears around everything from job loss to its effective integration into industry. A bright spot is that apprehension inevitably leads to discussions about the technology which give the opportunity for misinformation to be corrected.
As the commercial sector begins to gain interest in AI assisted arts, product placement in art may become an issue meaning the public sector will have to be vigilant to preserve this burgeoning industry’s autonomy from big corporations.
For AI assisted or produced art to gain popularity, the idea of collaborative practice between AI programmers and artists must be encouraged. Regions must show that they can support and facilitate this shift by promoting things like funding opportunities and museums. They must ensure that culture remains a part of every discussion about employment and start paying for artists visits to companies to create spaces for collaboration.
One start in this area is the STARTS initiative – Innovation at the nexus of Science, Technology, and the ARTS from the European Commission in DG EAC and DG REGIO. Contributors also recommended that to inspire artists to take part in AI assisted art, regions reconnect pieces of art with their original surroundings.
Ms. Heid also affirmed her belief that the creative arts industry can be at the centre of an inclusive and sustainable Europe. Art and culture is the heartbeat of regions, reflecting the hopes and fears of society. With their fingers on its pulse, artists can respond to its insecurities. This knowledge enables artists to help forge a European identity through culture and education. Therefore, it is important for artists to pay attention to and remain informed about societal changes.