Is AI Art Original?

Edd H. English

With artificial intelligence (AI) becoming incorporated into more aspects of our daily lives, the possibilities for creative expression are beginning to expand. And it has implications on humanity's place in art.

Automatic Painting

One of the earliest examples of this was the development of the “automatic” painter. Starting in the mid-2000s, a number of programs were developed that essentially programmed algorithms to create art that mimicked human expression. Their results, though seemingly random compared to human-created art, were still compelling.

Deep Dream, Magenta, & More

A fantastic example is a 2010 program called Deep Dream, which took photos as inputs and created fractal-like images as output. While Deep Dream showed how AI could mimic human artistic expression, it didn’t create anything original; it simply recombined existing elements into new patterns.

Since then, AI has been applied to more tasks with increasing creativity and productivity. Another example is music generation and composition; from techno-jazz compositions by Jukedeck (DeepMind) to a computer program that creates classical piano music (Google Magenta), there are plenty of examples showing how AI can be used to generate music in a wide variety of styles.

Though AI-infused artworks may not be considered high art (yet), they do provide some interesting insight into how we might integrate technology as part of our artistic process versus seeing technology only as a tool or resource for producing works that we then add our own creativity to afterward. These kinds of experimental works raise questions about whether creativity still resides within only humans or if it resides within our tools instead—and even which one is better at producing something truly beautiful (or even something truly creative).

The common theme in many criticisms is that AI artwork doesn't create something original like an artist would; instead, they take existing elements and recombine them into new musical pieces or images. However, recent projects like 1SecondPainting prove otherwise.

The key difference between our understanding of AI in 2020 versus 2010 is that now we understand artificial intelligence not as a simple, procedural equation, but as a near-infinitely creative algorithm that can produce art that is just as, if not more, inspiring than human-based art.

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