Dolphins taking selfies

Divisive: Artificial Intelligence: Open AI: Dall-E & ChatGPT

I’ve been experimenting with how artificial intelligence can contribute to my artistic workflow ever since Adobe introduced Neural Filters in Photoshop back in October 2020. Recently, a friend told me about AI-generated images over at Open AI and their formidable application Dall-E which in turn led me to the remarkably useful ChatGPT, a text generator that produces coherent, well-written copy from just about any topic you throw at it (sans the cesspoolian, lewd, lubricious stuff).

The prompt I used to help the AI engine create the above picture was as follows:

A photo-realistic image of dozens of dolphins taking selfies.

This technology is still in its infancy and I can’t even imagine what it will be capable of doing going forward. While some artists are verbally skeptical and even feel threatened by Artificial Intelligence, it’s not much different from how photographers once felt about Adobe Photoshop and the slew of image-editing software that followed its introduction back in 1990. I’ve been using Photoshop on a more or less daily basis since 1996. That’s more than 25 years of image manipulation on my conscious!

My personal favorite argument in favor of image editing has always been that no camera will ever be invented that can fully capture what I see with my own two lenses (eyes) and what emotions (my heart) experienced at the moment of exposure.

Not many know this, but Photoshop was originally created to manipulate digital images way, way back in 1988 by brothers Thomas and John Knoll. The two then iterated it into a full-fledged commercial application at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the special effects company founded by director George Lucas of Star Wars fame, before eventually becoming the flagship product of Adobe Systems.

So what is Artificial Intelligence, anyway? One “official” definition:

Simulation of human intelligence by machines, especially computers that can include natural language operations, speech recognition, and machine vision.

To me, AI is an aggregation of human-generated knowledge and experience used to generate logical (or, illogical) conclusions and actions. The knowledge and experience can be derived from all kinds of science and the arts, but it can also use input from emotions.

I can see how some professions could be made redundant as AI develops and replaces knowledge workers like programmers, scientists, researchers, journalists, and maybe even musicians. Most  think of it as such or realize it, but artificial intelligence is already used in many fields including:

• Manufacturing robots
• Self-driving cars
• Smart assistants
• Monitoring of social media
• Radio playlists
• Podcast ad insertion

No, I don’t see AI as a threat to visual artists. Unlike Photoshop (which is becoming increasingly intelligent), AI is another brilliant tool that can be used to envision and execute creative ideas.

So, I’m clearly embracing this new tool wholeheartedly and its arrival doesn’t mean that all my other tools are left behind or thrown out. That would be a forgone conclusion I’m not prepared to make. At least not now.