Artificial intelligences could give human creatives a run for their money, perhaps not only competing with us but triumphing over us.
Manmade AI’s have generated their own personal language just as J.R.R. Tolkien did in his Lord of the Rings masterpiece. They’ve generated abstract visual art and mixed together their own musical compositions. AI’s are always getting better in the translation department, a lit genre which used to hold a good deal of creativity and flexibility. They have even written Wikipedia articles, and everyone knows those are creative writing half the time anyway.
One particular field in which AI is becoming increasingly used is music. We have AI’s generating music. Let it sink in a moment. Emotionless programmed intellects are the ones creating musical scores for quite a few of the videos floating around the Internet: scores which, like any piece of music, are meant to evoke strong feelings within human individuals.
For the entirety of humanity’s past, music has stood for an expression of our free spirit, of what makes us who we are, of the joys and sorrows and mixed sensations which a person experiences. Music has always been unique. It’s not like a book or movie or painting. People can pick and choose whether they like those art forms or not.
But music is an artistic medium which every person can appreciate, perhaps not in every genre classified as music. Nonetheless, practically all people take a liking to one type of music or another. Thus, good composers are a gift to the world, to the present one as well as that of the future because good music lives on long after its composer has passed to dust.
It’s disheartening to think an AI could end up becoming a composer as superb as John Williams or Hans Zimmer. But they are slowly working their way up to it. Dozens of companies have sprung up to produce music for others’ use as stock soundtracks or even specially prepared scores, but by harnessing an AI’s engineered ingenuity.
This method of obtaining music not only seems like a lazy practice, but it also detracts a degree of the need for human composers and even performers. Google’s Tacotron 2 AI can copy people’s authentic voices, and quite well at that. Bots could be taking the stage and singing in a theater near you anytime in the future, although I doubt they could compare to Elton John.
The sobering and powerful demonstration of the capabilities of AI could very easily creep its way into sound design for media such as filmmaking and podcasting. An AI could be programmed to produce sound effects of veritably any kind. And so, a career path which attracts a large number of aspiring filmmakers could soon be filled by the “shoes” of a nameless bot, an entity unable to like or dislike any task it confronts.
Similar to music design and sound design, the creative outlets of writing and translation are under attack by the AI developers at Google and elsewhere. These philological arts could start dwindling just about anytime now. Most concerning are these fields because I myself am a writer. And potentially competing with a robot in the years to come is not something I had initially planned on.
A translation can really only have a strong literary merit when it’s translated by a person who can stretch the words and phrases and can attach a range of meanings to them. When you use Google Translate to look up that one phrase you’ve heard but never understood, the AI just spits out a rudimentary response. You may merely examine two or three different translations of a single classic text into English to see the creative liberties such translators take. It’s a true art. What Google Translate does is not.
Now we come to writing, the great literary art. Be assured that this whole article isn’t computer-composed, but such a concern could become more realistic as time progresses. AI’s have been writing articles for the Web for some time. Artificial intelligence has even been responsible for generating abstract visual art, another possibility for online stock sales. Thus, the Internet as a host of multimedia will continue to provide platforms for AI to expand.
But it’s also giving humans an opportunity to expand. More people have taken up writing in this digital age than in any other. This means literacy is improving, and the Internet can help it to continue that way. In this respect and others, AI has the potential to actually assist in bettering the understanding of human creativity.
Simultaneously, however, AI is beginning to barge in on people’s creativity. As if the competition between human artists was not enough, more creatives could find themselves being appropriately labeled as “starving artists.”