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Stephen Downes

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Do read the whole article, the contents of which I can only hint at here. Alan Levine argues, "Art is the voice of a person and whenever AI art is anything more than aesthetically pleasing it's not because of what the AI did it's because of what a person did." So, like Alan, I am a photographer, and like a million other people, I took a photo of the Taj Mahal (which I consider the most beautiful building in the world). I could have simply purchased a phone, but mine is based on my experience of being there. This is an important point, because while it's true that 'all art is a remix', what Levine reminds us here is that the associations humans make are different from the ones AIs make. That's because human associations, and therefore, human remixes, are based on individual experiences. Even if our algorithms are the same as the AIs (and there are arguably similarities) our data is very different. And this, too, is what makes something aesthetically pleasing to us - not because of how it was created, or even because of who created it, but because of how it speaks to our experiences.

Now (at the risk of making this post too long) let me take this a step further. The greatest danger of AI is not that it will replace human authors, or anything like that, but rather, it is that it will reshape human experiences. This happens in one of at least two ways: either it reshapes them in its own image, reducing human experience to the bland and the generic (think 1960s bowdlerized television); or it reshapes them at the hands of some unethical AI manipulator (think recommendation algorithms that take us deeper down the extremist rabbit hole). The human, indeed, ethical, response to AI is to experience the world as fully and completely as possible, and to offer back to AI and other humans the remixes that are based on that experience in all their unpredictable and chaotic glory.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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Last Updated: Jun 21, 2024 03:10 a.m.

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