If you follow Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) topics, I’m sure you’ve seen the output of such programs as Google’s Deep Dream, and more recently Open AI’s Dall-E and Dall-E 2. What these programs can build is nothing short of incredible! But the question many of us in the creative industry have is: will these AI Models render us obsolete and take away our jobs? Let’s consider what is likely to happen on this front.
Will these AI Models render us obsolete?
A fox in the style of Claude Monet. Open AI's Dall-E 2
Historically automation has in fact replaced human jobs. From looms (think of the Luddite rebellion) to washing machines, to modern factory robots, machines consistently replace human labor with machines. This has for the most part been manual-type labor in the past, however. Now with AI/ML we’re looking at more mental, creative labor that could be replaced.
There are two things to consider here: first, will creative labor be as easily replaced by machines as manual labor? And second, will we actually miss it if it does happen?
In answer to the first question, I say not soon. Creative labor is not as easy to define or to replace as manual labor. It is one thing to have a machine screw a nut onto a bolt (which is the same thing every time). It is quite another to ask a machine to come up with a good story, or create some amazing concept art, or to model a unique 3D character. Each creation is unique, and the process is not exactly repeatable, which makes it much more difficult for a machine to replace a human in this job. But of course today’s algorithms and silicon are nothing like what was around even ten years ago. As mentioned, projects like Deep Dream and especially Dall-E are really starting to blur the lines of what we might expect a machine to do. They can’t replace a human just yet, but what about five years from now?
Projects like Deep Dream and especially Dall-E are really starting to blur the lines of what we might expect a machine to do.
Van Gogh Style 'Starry Night' with Eyes, Birds, and Fish. Google Deep Dream
And that brings us to point number two: we might be inclined to think of creative work as sacrosanct—that nothing but humans should be doing this work. But people thought about that for weaving thread, and doing laundry, and screwing in bolts in a factory. All of these tasks have moved on to machines over time. And honestly, do we miss not doing these jobs by hand? Would you prefer to have to get out a washer board and some soap and scrub your clothes clean and then hang them to dry, or would you prefer to throw them into a washer and dryer and let the machine handle this mundane task? Even though we might think we should hold on to these more creative tasks, perhaps we will find other even more satisfying things to do once AI/ML steps up and becomes truly creative?
What about here at Artimatic? Here our mission is specifically To Create Tools to Empower the Digital Artist. Are we taking away the creativity of the very clients we hope to inspire? Of course not! What we’re doing is removing some of the drudge work to make your creative life easier. Just as you would not want to wash your clothes by hand anymore, once you use a product like skiNNer, you will no longer want to spend the frustrating hours weight painting a 3D model. And we have many more similar products in the pipeline.
Just as you would not want to wash your clothes by hand anymore, once you use a product like skiNNer, you will no longer want to spend the frustrating hours weight painting a 3D model.
Cyborg Looks Over a Ruined City, Courtesy of Anthony Leckie
By getting rid of the duller, more repetitive parts of doing something like 3D animation we and other companies are actually bringing your creative vision closer to realization, allowing you to experiment more and be more creative.
So whether or not you’re excited about creative tasks being done by machines, it is likely going to happen, but we think this is good news. The easier it is to get from an idea to a realized work of art the more experimental you can be, the more iterations you can try out, and the more creative your ultimate output will be. I am personally committed to making AI/ML a future partner in your creativity, not a competitor. It’s going to be an awesome, even more creative future!