May 2, 2023

Ai and the desire for the uncanny

What is AI even?

Lots of talk about 'artificial intelligence' as of late, and how its current development affects creatives and photographers working today. Let's get one thing out of the way, there is nothing about AI that is intelligent. It is algorithmic analysis, an automated tool for plagiarism and theft of intellectual property. This New Yorker article explains the methodology of ChatGPT and how it scrapes the internet to study which words are near each other words in order to simulate human writing. And when it comes to imagery, it is basically a tool for automated computer generated drawing, basically CAD for creating truly uncanny images devoid of any real artistic drive, since there is no creator, but instead generating a simulation of what an image might look like, and all at the expense of scraping the internet for an almost infinite number of copy-written images in order to 'teach' the technology what pictures look like.

There is a lot to be said about 'ai' and how it can be a tool for artists. It can certainly benefit artists and designers who have always used technology to hasten the creative process. But it also comes at a cost to other artists who are used to being paid, generally quite modestly, for just that artistic creation.

Satire and the Uncanny Valley

I think it is important to remember that the brain has a built in sense of what is and isn't real, and I am not sure ai will ever be able to fool people. However, I do find there to be something compelling in its fakeness. I mean let's be honest, most AI imagery I see looks fake. And I think that's interesting. The most compelling AI artwork I have seen pushes that idea.

If photography allows us to experiment with the real, AI allows us to experiment with the unreal. is a prime example.