I’m an Art Critic. Will AI Steal My Job? Martin Herbert, δημοσίευση στο ArtReview [30/1/2023]
ChatGPT’s recommendations for writing an exhibition review are nothing if not uncritical, and yet they are unmistakably of the moment
Another day, another newspaper story about cultural producers losing ground, if not their entire livelihoods, to AI. One particularly vocal group of late has been illustrators, whose position currently looks about as secure as that of a handloom weaver in the late eighteenth century. For months, illustrations ‘authored’ by programs such as Midjourney have been popping up in journals including The Atlantic and The Economist. Last December a big sci-fi and fantasy publisher, Tor, advance-released the cover of a forthcoming book, Christopher Paolini’s Fractal Noise, which turned out to be AI-generated and stirred a social-media backlash. More recently, a twenty-something fintech dude in the US used AI to make an entire children’s book in about five minutes, provoking further ire within the industry itself. At the base of this inhuman ‘creativity’, of course, is human labour. Artwork-generating AIs – somewhat like artists of yore, before originality became paramount – are ‘trained’ by looking at existing creators’ work. Moreover, ‘in the style of…’ rip-off prompts are increasingly built into the standard AI brief.
All of this is understandably galling for human practitioners, but let’s rewind a couple of years – and try and zoom out a little – to recall the arrival of a certain type of book cover that became known as ‘the book blob’: amorphous, multicoloured globular shapes overlaid with a dominant, usually sanserif title. This trend was much mocked at the time and was also contextualised as the latest identikit format (see, earlier, knockoff-Twilight covers from the 2000s). You see where I’m going here. Before the rise of the robots, publishers running scared of difference, unpredictability and creativity had already strategised to take the human spark out of book design. (That Fractal Noise cover is equally generic, for its genre.) Bestsellers have looked like an AI designed them for years; now they probably will, and it’ll be even cheaper for the magnates. (I once wrote a book whose designer crowdsourced the design by offering the title and concept up to a workshop; I was a little ticked off then, but the cover was odd and I liked it, and I think I got off lightly.)
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