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May 23, 2019

What is the role of artists in AI development?

By Christian Rauch, Managing Director, STATE Experience Science

Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations have been causing quite a stir in the field of arts and culture lately. They have been creating movies, paintings, music, poetry — and much more.

One prime example was when the first piece of AI-generated art to be sold at a major auction house stunned the art market last year with a remarkable price tag nearly 45-times its high estimate.

As AI algorithms start to generate artistic works that are compared to the pinnacle of human creativity, it raises the question of what the role of artists in future development of artificial intelligence may be.

Is this the beginning of the end of human creativity and the relevance of artists? Should we rely on computers to inspire us in the future with their creative outputs?

What value should be placed on AI-derived art?

While hardly anyone would argue today that the application of AI algorithms brings forward many new and surprising results, the issue of value is not as easily accessible.

In fact, value and meaning only make sense from a particular perspective, such as personal or societal, and have to be renegotiated continuously. Oftentimes, an absolute definition cannot be found and is dependent on subtle contexts and weak relations.

Here lies one of the great difficulties with machine creativity — and, simultaneously, the necessity of human intervention.

“In the field of arts and culture, AI innovations have been causing quite a stir.”

AI technologies offer artists and creatives a range of new tools that give birth to exciting applications in the creative sector. However, it is in the creation of contexts and the negotiation of what matters for us — as individuals and as societies — where the true meaning of the work of artists starts to emerge.

The development of AI raises a range of most important questions that will need to be answered. We need skilled facilitators who will allow us to reflect the key issues from as many angles as possible — and include in this discourse as many voices as possible. We need to identify positive visions of how AI may be used for our maximum benefit and avoid dangerous pitfalls.

“Is this the beginning of the end of human creativity and the relevance of artists?”

Moreover, a high degree of new thinking and ingenuity is necessary in order to exploit the positive potential of AI technologies across all sectors, including the art world.

AI-driven art on display

At the third AI for Good Global Summit, works of art on the topic of AI will be displayed for the first time alongside technological and scientific breakthroughs.

The works will add meaning and richness to the debate around the societal implications of AI and will enable a broader audience to connect with AI on a direct and emotional level, while inspiring participants to contemplate the bigger picture in order to commonly build future visions around the meaningful use of AI.

As content partner for the arts programme of the summit, Berlin-based art-science initiative STATE will show a selection of artists and results from the recent AI Innovationcamp Gestaltungsmaschine, organized together with the Kompetenzzentrum für Kultur- und Kreativwirtschaft for the German Federal Ministry of Economy.

Exploring the opportunities at the intersection of AI development and arts and creative industries, the event produced a range of inspiring examples of the possible impact of artists in AI development.

Among the artwork shown in the exhibition at ITU are UNFINISHED, a creative dialogue between painter Roman Lipski and an AI developed by Birds on Mars, Christian “Mio” Loclair’s work, Narciss, a robot installation that uses AI to analyse itself, seemingly reflecting on its own existence, as well as recent work from Sascha Pohflepp and team, who in collaboration the Natural History Museum in Berlin ask about the future of evolution in the anthropocene.

If you miss the opportunity to visit the exhibition in Geneva, you may still see these works and others at the art and science gallery STATE Studio in Berlin. It’s one of the many new spaces around the world that focus on stimulating dialogue on scientific and technological development through the works of artists and designers, in order to facilitate a more holistic dialogue about future innovation.

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What is the role of artists in AI development?

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