1. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    AI and art

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by thirdwind, Feb 3, 2013.

    I was watching a documentary on artificial intelligence, and it got me thinking about AI and art. There are some things humans will never be able to beat computers at, like manipulating large amounts of data and complex math calculations. But what about art? I've read about a few computers that can write books and compose music, but the pieces they create can't rival anything humans have produced. There was a book of poetry written by a computer program (don't remember the name at the moment), and it was nonsensical and just plain bad.

    Given how quickly AI is improving, I think computers are going to get better at producing art. But I wonder if computers will ever be able to produce a great novel or poem or compose music like Mozart. It seems to me like the "human factor" isn't something that can be easily programmed, even with the technology we will have many, many years from now. It's certainly an interesting thing to think about, and I'm curious to know what everyone else thinks.
     
  2. Teodor Pravický
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    Teodor Pravický Senior Member

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    I don't see why they couldn't. But I think new inventions has to be made by the human, because the art should fit to humans.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's certainly a component of the Turing Test. The question is not whether it will take place, but when.

    Will the computer ever know it has created something outstanding? That's a much more difficult question. Intelligence is not the same thing as sentience. Defining sentience is hard enough. Coming up with a definition everyone can agree on is much more difficult.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Computers are unmotivated. Left to themselves, they just sit there waiting for someone to tell them to do something. Life requires motivation, a self-preservation instinct, an instinct towards reproduction. I think that's where creativity comes from. And I don't think humans or any other animals are motivated to reproduce, or even to protect their own existence, unless, way down deep inside, they have some sense of self-worth.

    There's a root of creativity. Self-worth. If you believe you are worth something, you can believe that which you create is worth something.

    It's a little difficult to imagine a computer that has a real sense of self-worth. You can't program it to have it; it's not a matter of merely flipping on the self-worth bit. For it to be a real sense of self-worth, it has to motivate the computer to do things to preserve itself, improve itself, possibly reproduce itself, and to create something new that nobody programmed it to create.

    That's a big step - or rather, many big steps - from where we are now. I suppose it may happen, but I seriously doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

    This raises another question: If a computer were to spontaneously create art, would we recognize it as art? Maybe it's exciting and meaningful to the machine, but would it be so to us? How would we understand what is, in some way, "life-affirming" to a machine?

    Questions like these can get pretty deep, and I'll defer to people like Ray Kurzweil for the answers. I might not agree with them, but Kurzweil and his ilk have done a lot more thinking about these things than I have.
     
  5. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I would recognize it as art. Even if the computer doesn't recognize that it has created something great, humans can. After all, we are the ultimate authorities when it comes to judging and defining art (of course, we don't really have much competition here). If a robot made a clay pot, for example, would you consider that a piece of art? Assuming that a person and a robot make the same exact pot, would the person's pot be considered more "artistic" (whatever that means) than the robot's pot?

    Here's another example. Suppose that a computer had written Hamlet. Would that fact diminish the value of the play in any way? In analyzing and discussing literature, we almost always end up talking about what a certain piece of art tells us about the "human condition." Based on this, I wonder how many people would be willing to seriously study a piece of art written by a computer?

    Here's a silly question to end this post. If a book written by a computer program was published, would it be under the computer program's name or under the programmer's name? :p
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure you understand me. I was postulating a machine that is very different from us, creating what it "thinks" of as art, independently of what we regard as art. It is serving its own purposes, not ours. So how would you recognize its output as art? What the computer regards as great might not be what we regard as great.

    This is a good question. You could easily program a computer to string random words together, and eventually, mindlessly, it would write Hamlet. So is the value of Hamlet contained exclusively in the string of characters that define it, or is it contained in Shakespeare's recognition that THOSE are the characters, THOSE are the words, that create a word of art? That's beyond this discussion, at least as far as I'm concerned.
     
  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I see what you're saying. I was thinking of a computer programmed to create a piece of art based on our (or the programmer's) definition of art. I suppose you're right. It would be pretty much impossible to recognize its output as art. Heck, there's even disagreement among people about what art is.
     
  8. orryMr
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    orryMr New Member

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    I think artists are always looking for new ways to express themselves, hence the creation of musical instruments and the use of language in new and unexpected ways. What we want is to convey something, give meaning to the artefact, be it a piece of music or a painting or a poem. I think algorithms and artificial intelligence can be used as tools by artists, and that would kind of make sense, given where it seems we're going. These sorts of things are already prevalent in other aspects of our lives, so why not art?

    about machines creating art of their own volition:
    The thing is that humans are motivated to give a piece (a song, a painting, a poem) meaning and as was mentioned previously computers seem to be pretty lazy in this regard.
    Our best idea of what intelligence is, is ourselves. So it makes sense that if we were to perfect the process of synthesizing a truly intelligent system, it would at least resemble us (because we're the only thing that we know that's intelligent that creates art, right?). And if it's anything like us, it'll probably have similar drives.. do similar things, like create art (and, I guess, more intelligent systems)
     

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