I’m sure you’ve heard it on more than one occasion, even at work: AI is here to stay. And those who don’t adapt will have to go with their heads down to the unemployment line, because from now on everything will be done this way. The Internet is full of people who teach you how to “write” a hundred books in record time thanks to ChatGPT and illustrate them thanks to different tools, and there are even those who proudly say that within a decade TV series will be adapted to each person and we will all have a different and always rewarding experience.
And, honestly, I think it’s about time to say that the little toy has been good, we’ve had a great time playing with it, but it’s about time to recognize a couple of truths. For example, that the triumph of AI is the triumph of creative laziness and lack of talent… And that the “AI artists” seem to be just as much of a bunch of bumblers as those who not so long ago talked about the future passing, yes or yes, through NFTs. Spoiler: it wasn’t.
Yes, AI is here to stay, and it is going to change many lives: for example, what it is going to do in GMail mail is spectacular, and the creation of a presentation in seconds is a fabulous advance for all social media managers (for example) who will be able to devote more love to their work instead of design tasks. Did you know that it was here to stay too and it was time to ride the wave? The metaverse. The NFT. Virtual reality glasses. 3D. Cryptocurrencies.
Of course, Artificial Intelligence has thousands of technical applications that will make our lives easier. But no matter how hard the technology gurus try, it will never be able to replace human creativity… largely because that is the only way it can survive: by stealing, tweaking and substituting here and there previous creations, as if it were a collage made by a primary school child. Is it good? It depends on the receiver’s tolerance for the anodyne. Is it original? No, never, under any circumstances.
A few months ago, a Twitter user boasted of having “created” with ChatGPT a story to tell his son before bedtime: the adventures of a cloud merchant living in a country made of clouds. And, reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing: Is this really all the tool can give us? Is the end of imagination something we should applaud? Why would anyone ask a machine to tell a story to their child? Haven’t we seen enough sci-fi movies to know that it’s not a good idea?
The future, terrible future
The day will come -because, no doubt, it will- when an artificial intelligence will write a movie. It will be a ‘Shazam! 2‘ in turn, a pastiche made by an algorithm with the same interest as watching cement dry. The AI, creatively, is capable of reaching the minimum. Very quickly, yes, but without feelings of any kind, emotion or humanity. Okay, it is able to create a story by mixing many others. So what?
An AI will never make an interesting movie. We won’t see an ‘Aftersun’ or a ‘Return to Seoul’, because it will be incapable of understanding the human soul, the twists and turns of it, the loneliness, the layers of pain and nuance that a body (and a mind) can endure. Can it create a good-versus-evil story filled with explosions? I don’t doubt it. Can it go further? I doubt it. Maybe if it resorts to simple copy-paste, it can come close.
“It’s capable of making incredible images!”. No, not at all. It is capable of stealing incredible images, other people’s styles, millions and millions of drawings and photographs uploaded to the Internet over the years modified -sometimes very slightly- so that some people without much talent, trying to get the most profit in the shortest possible time regardless of the result, can get away with it. An “AI artist” does not make art: he is basically a bum with pretensions of grandeur.
Continuing to praise the AI will inevitably lead to the triumph of mediocrity. Do we prefer opinion articles or a Wikipedia-style sobriety that also invents data to keep us always happy? Do we want a picture in the style of an author or a drawing of that author? Once the time of experimentation with the toy has passed, will we really want to play with it again or will it be forgotten as a mere curiosity?
“This is just the beginning,” some comment. “Give it time and it will surprise you.” And yet, the AI is the five scratched, the pass mark, the homework downloaded from El Rincón del Vago (The Idler’s Corner). If we want a society that does not aspire to excellence, indeed, our creative future passes, yes or yes, through ChatGPT, NightCafe and the rest of the crowd of apps that have appeared in recent months and that, in the end, have had their greatest moment of glory with some photos of the Pope wearing a reefer and Donald Trump being arrested.
Of course there are going to be massive layoffs because of AI, but not because of its unstoppable quality indistinguishable from human beings, but because of the greed of a few who seek to make more money at the cost of increasing mediocrity and reducing human value. Unlike the NFTs or the Metaverse, this touches where it really matters in the labor market: the pockets of those in charge. And between one more yacht or giving value to your content, they have it much clearer than we do. Sadly.