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Artificial intelligence is a new field that is possible because of computers. It is a field of computer science that has a goal of making computers do what is normally done by people, so that a computer acts as if it has intelligence. It can enhance artistic endeavors and perform tasks that can add to the creation and appreciation of art.
One way that artificial intelligence has been used recently with art is the advent of a computer program called Recognition. This program takes images from news stories and from famous artworks from throughout art history and matches them up. This program allows the user to view artworks in a different way, seeing parallels between art and reality that could not be done without the program. It allows users to see art in a different way. While Recognition is a computer program, a person could learn to do the same thing, drawing different parallels between images and art from what the computer’s AI does.
Perhaps the most well-known artificial intelligence application of art is Harold Cohen’s AARON, a computer program that generates objects with stylistic consistency. Cohen says of AARON that it does not think or show creativity, or be self-aware, or explain something about ourselves. Instead, it shows that machines can do some things that we thought require thought, and creativity, and self-awareness, but do not. Art requires seeing first, and seeing, or examination of objects, is something that computers can do.
Another exploration into AI in arts is Google’s DeepDream, a program that generates artistic compositions. The artistic creations are unique in the way they incorporate symbols or images into one piece of art.
Artificial Intelligence programs also create musical productions, as well as drawings and paintings. A computer-generated symphony and a composer-created symphony played to an audience cannot be differentiated. Computers can take a musical piece and analyze it in a different way from a human analysis so that it can “create” a new piece in the same style.
One application of AI is in placing musical scores with video productions. The computer can match desired emotions with musical pieces much more quickly than an artist can scan through musical pieces.
AI can even “write”. CaptionBot creates a caption for any image uploaded to it.
However, if a computer makes the drawing or painting or puts the musical piece together, is it still art? Those who have debated that question agree generally that art always requires a piece that is missing from AI. That piece is intention. Whether it is a 5-year-old drawing a house or an experienced painter creating a masterpiece or a composer writing a symphony, each of these artists has the intention to make a work of art that makes an impact or depicts some idea. AI does not have the intention to create a work, but just to complete the tasks that have been programmed into it.
Some AI proponents describe AI as another venue for art as software creators rather than painters or composers, and they can find new ways to express their artistic thoughts and creativity through this software creation. AI has also been described as another tool that artists can use to capture the creations that they imagine. Like a paintbrush or piano or charcoal pencil, AI is something else artists can use to share their art.
A very recent innovation in AI in the arts is the creation of neural nets or deep learning. While business is using artificial neural nets to make products faster or more efficient, art is using neural nets to create art. A neural net uses data and analyzes it to produce the desired outcome, according to the computer program. For example, you are using an artificial neural net when you tag friends on Facebook based on the images that come up or when you search Google photos for a particular image. It is the concept behind facial recognition programs. It uses parameters to find images or create images based on data inputs.
Microsoft’s COCO (Common Objects in Context) describes in words what your phone is pointed at. While it got many images correct, it also made many errors, just as Siri does not understand what you are asking much of the time. While AI is good, there are a lot of issues that will come up as this technological area grows.
One of the issues of AI is this idea of errors. If art’s goal is to create a perfect image of an item, then computers can do it better as they can correct errors. However, if the artist’s goal is different, then the computer cannot compete. For example, an artist may take an error, such as eyes that are asymmetrical and make them the heart of the painting examining what beauty is and how it is attained. A computer cannot add this creative interpretation of what is seen like a human artist can. However, the two are not mutually exclusive. Instead the human artist can build on the technological view of an image and the technology can change what the human artist envisioned. The two can work in concert. We are back at the question of what art is and what an artist is.
Many art critics and museum curators see AI as a way to bring art back to the lives of the computer generation, the millennials and the youth of today. As they have learned to be dependent on technology and find technology the most important part of anything, technology and art make the perfect pair to interest them. The ideas and creativity of modern artists can be depicted in the future through computer programs or robots or apps that can add an entire new texture to this diverse, myriad canopy that we call art. As we study art and art history, much of the book is yet to be written. However, one truth is that for up and coming artists, staying on top of what computers can do and how AI can enhance your art is one area to keep your eye on.