Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and art have been the subject of a discussion between Ziv Epstein, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and Joshua Meyer, an artist from Cambridge. The panel was organized by the Harvard […]
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and art have been the subject of a discussion between Ziv Epstein, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and Joshua Meyer, an artist from Cambridge. The panel was organized by the Harvard Safra Center for Ethics, in collaboration with the Human Flourishing Program, as part of the “Ethics Mondays” speaker series, which had been paused during the COVID-19 pandemic. Xavier Symon, a postdoctoral researcher from the Human Flourishing Program, moderated the event.
While Epstein creates art using generative AI, Meyer relies on traditional artistic forms, such as oil painting. Epstein, who completed his PhD at the MIT Media Lab, has experience in using AI to create multimedia art. His work has been featured in scientific journals like Science and Nature, and his art has been exhibited at the Museum of Art Vienna and the Burning Man festival.
Meyer, who studied at Yale University and Bezalel Academy, has received a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and his paintings have been displayed at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Meyer explained that his art is analog in nature, and the process of painting is complex and individualized.
Despite growing concerns that AI could replace the need for human artists, Epstein and Meyer agree that AI doesn’t pose an existential threat to traditional art but should be used as a tool. Meyer discussed the efforts of artist David Salle to train AI to imitate his style.
Epstein and Meyer concur that incorporating AI into art can have an impact on it, but oil painting is “absolutely irreplaceable by artificial intelligence,” according to Meyer. For him, art is not a “thing,” but a “process of transformation.”
Both panelists highlighted examples of new technologies and mediums throughout history that artists have incorporated as tools. Epstein cited the example of photography, which at one point raised fears of the end of painting but resulted in interesting changes, such as the liberation from realism and the encouragement of impressionism and the modern art movement. Meyer emphasized that even though we are familiar with other artistic mediums, we still continue to paint people, embracing abstraction as well as modernism.
The panelists also pointed out the potential financial implications that generative AI can have on artists. Meyer added that certain art mediums are potentially vulnerable to substitution by AI. Epstein also touched on the issue of artists’ ownership rights, mentioning debates about copyright and fair use in the context of AI-generated art.
At the conclusion of the event, moderator Symon summarized the discussion, emphasizing a “cautiously optimistic” view of the future presence of AI in art.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is generative artificial intelligence?
Generative artificial intelligence is an area of AI that focuses on creating new and original data using algorithms and machine learning. It is used for generating artwork, music, texts, films, etc., as well as solving problems in various industries.
Can artificial intelligence replace traditional art?
Epstein and Meyer agree that artificial intelligence cannot replace traditional art but can serve as a useful tool for artists in their creative processes. Art is a process that involves human interaction and the transformation of ideas and thoughts, leading to originality and deeper understanding.
How can artificial intelligence impact the art industry?
Artificial intelligence has the potential to impact the art industry financially, as well as certain mediums. Certain forms of art, such as illustrations, may be more susceptible to substitution by AI. Additionally, questions arise regarding artists’ ownership and copyright issues concerning artwork created using artificial intelligence. However, AI cannot fully replace the creativity and expressiveness of human artists.