[AI Art Robot Invasion] Artificial intelligence cannot be the subject of artistic creation

2021.2.24

People continue to question the creation of artificial intelligence artworks. Can an AI artist do the same as a human artist? Artificial intelligence can play an excellent role in creating artworks, but it is not as a creative “subject” but as a “tool”. This is because the work that creates something is a matter of ‘aesthetics’, not ‘engineering’. (by philosopher Kim Jae-In, author of <New Normal Philosophy>)

As artificial intelligence technology develops at a rapid pace, concerns and expectations are crossing over whether artificial intelligence is going to go beyond the area of artistic creation, a privileged activity only for humans. There are three things to consider when looking at this matter. First, what do modern people think of art as? Second, what is the meaning of creation in modern days? Third, is artificial intelligence a subject or a tool?

Although many people don’t know this well, the current concept of art that was used throughout the 20th century and is still in use today was established in the first half of the 18th century. “Fine arts (beaux-arts)” was established as a concept in the early and mid-18th century, and accordingly, the name “aesthetics” and division were created in 1735-1750. If this historicality is overlooked, the discussion won’t get to the point.

First, ‘art’ was established as a concept by the French philosopher and writer Charles Batteux. In 1747, Batteux published <Art Reduced to a Single Principle>. As the word ‘single principle’ in the title implies, until then, art was based on ‘multiple principles’, and according to each principle, ‘painting, music, sculpture, poetry, architecture, dance, theater’ were understood as a different activity that had nothing in common. In the first half of the 18th century, Batteux saw that many of the activities we now know as ‘art’ pursue a common principle, the ‘aesthetic’. Later, as time passed, photography, film, media art, and performing arts were added to ‘art’ because they pursue this single principle. Meanwhile, “aesthetics” as a theoretical and practical study related to art was born by the German philosopher A. G. Baumgarten. He first wrote the expression “aesthetica” in his dissertation in 1735, “Reflections on Poetry: Meditationes philosophicae de nonnullis ad poema pertinentibus”. He clarified that it is a discipline for art creation by defining aesthetics as “philosophia poetica.”

Batteux and Baumgarten’s work seems to have represented the European perspective in the first half of the 18th century, and the birth of art and aesthetics shows the historical achievement of modern people. Later, Nietzsche exclaimed that “existence is an aesthetic phenomenon that is still acceptable to us, and that we can create such a phenomenon from ourselves.”

Even today, the meaning of ‘creation’ is not far from the concept of 250 years ago. When we find an “aesthetic” phenomenon in nature, we praise “it is art!”, but at this time, “art” is only a figurative meaning. The same applies when referring to some wonderful events in history or everyday life as art. In short, even though human art creation is the “best example” of creation, and other similar cases show more surprising results, they are merely metaphors.

Some creators emphasize ‘accidental’ and ‘unintentionality’. However, this is not much different from the nihilistic scream of “dada,” who shouted “new artists protest” in the middle of the World War I. Any artist should take responsibility when presenting the results to the audience. In other words, if you show anything, you are not an artist. Rembrandt’s statement that “a work is satisfied when the artist reaches his intention in it” is still valid.

Artificial intelligence can play a great role in creating artwork. However, it is not as a creative “subject”, but as a “tool”. Artistic creation produces a work as a result, but the work that creates something is a matter of ‘aesthetics’, not ‘engineering’. No one considers the problem of ‘Artificial Intelligence’ as a problem of ‘Pure Engineering’. This is why people continue to question the creation of artificial intelligence works.

The question is whether artificial intelligence can perform the same creative activities that humans have been doing for the past 250 years. The objections such as humans do not have pure free will, new creation under the sky is impossible, works using artificial intelligence can be superior, or modern art concepts are setting too high standards, are not at the core. This is because people are wondering if an AI artist works like a human artist. It doesn’t matter which one is better.

To find out this point, comparing human creators with artificial intelligence is enough. In short, human creators must go through the process of self-evaluation before presenting their work, whereas artificial intelligence randomly presents works. In principle, artificial intelligence does not have a built-in evaluation criterion, and evaluation is taken over by humans who make AI work. Artificial intelligence is just a tool or media on the same layer as paint, marble, piano, and letters. Of course, tools and media have their own resistance and must be handled well. However, it is impossible for tools or media to do their own creative work. Even if that happens, it can only be compared to the accidental work of nature.

The artist codes artificial intelligence, and if the result is not self-satisfying, he corrects the coding. The same goes for writers who value chance and randomness. At least the result should be within the range of one’s expectation and prediction, otherwise there would be no need to self-proclaim an old concept, ‘artist’. Without the author’s intention of the outcome, it has nothing in common with what humans have called “creating work” for 250 years. In the future, the artist’s task will be how well he is at designing the results and how well he handles artificial intelligence as a tool or media.

The concepts of “art” and “creation” that have been in use for 250 years cannot be absolute. What was born in history is destined to end with history. However, for those who value art, a modern invention, it is a wise choice to preserve its value. The essence of art must have been a virtue inherent in humans even before it emerged as a concept in the first half of the 18th century. However, I was sleeping for a long time without fully blooming. Let’s continue to leave art that has not yet reached its full potential for humans.

It is not to emphasize that humans are superior to artificial intelligence. In many ways, artificial intelligence is superior to humans. However, “evaluation” is a unique characteristic of humans. In this regard, artistic creation may remain the last bastion of man.

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