G Greg Loudon

AI will soon takeover the art world, but should it?

Mar 22, 2023

AI has officially arrived, and it is obviously here to stay, if not takeover. The newest AI appears ready to seize art, literature and a myriad of other industries away from us lowly mortals. While it needed the human element for its very creation, the illegal downloading of everything human has made us scarily close to obsolete. What the long-term effects will be nobody knows, but it’s only a matter of time before we find out. Some people see entire industries collapsing while others think it will reinvent the world for the better. Me, I think it’s the first while hoping for the second.

Either way it’s going to change everything. How can it not? With this lightning-fast capacity at your fingertips who needs a staff of highly paid employees? Ad agencies can hire one 21 year old kid with AI expertise to do ten different jobs saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The same can be said for almost every other industry in one capacity or another. With that in mind I think we all should be seriously considering one question right now. Should it? Should it change everything? Should it eliminate the human element from numerous industries? Just because AI can do almost everything should we let it? This isn’t just a new form of automation. This is something much bigger, much more dangerous and much more invasive.

Now’s the perfect time to take a long hard look at this world and think really hard about what we want it to be because change is coming and it’s coming in a big way, perhaps one of the largest shifts in human history. Do you remember when our economy shifted globally, and an enormous amount of decent labor and manufacturing jobs went overseas because business owners would rather pay a ten-year-old in China two dollars to work a 14 hour day instead of an American adult with a family to support? Jobs were disappearing overnight, industries leaving the country, small towns collapsing turning into ghost towns. What positive changes came out of those policies, other than CEOs making 400 to 1000 times the amount of the average worker. How has that turned out?

My concern about AI right now is specifically focused on the art world, especially the commercial art world. The AI art that I’ve seen thus far is amazing. AI art creators are pumping out amazing stuff in minutes if not seconds, works that would take artists days if not weeks to complete. Articles and books, in any authors voice can be written in no time at all. Of course, AI is capable of this because it has the entire library of human creation at its disposal. Millions, if not billions of pieces of artwork and literature have been illegally used for the AI to draw from. The devoted masses embracing AI art are thrilled to be able to create with no talent, training or any special ability. Simply figure out the best text chain to type into the computer. Or roll the dice and type something random and see what it creates. You can always claim you meant to do that. Some of these “AI artists” are downright smarmy, crowning themselves the new artists. If they are, they won’t be for long. AI is constantly learning and adapting, getting better and better with each updated version. I’m curious and afraid of what happens when the AI creates without us, when ChatGPT creates the text and the AI creates the art? Where is the need for us, the artists, the people, the humanity in all of this? Some people, mostly artists will say that the human element is still vital and essential but I’d bet everything that the business owners don’t share that sentiment. To the capitalists of this world, the sooner the AI eliminates human jobs the better. The problem is that there will always be greed and it will always dictate business. It is the American model. People are secondary, profits come first. We’ve seen it since this country began and it just keeps getting worse, more profits going to the top one percent while everyone else needs to reinvent or relearn or just figure out how to scrape by with less.

I’ve spent many years in advertising and I can guarantee you that as soon as the AI is stable and dependable enough it will replace vast sections of that industry. A large number of agency owners and art directors don’t care how creative or well thought out something is as long as the client is happy. And with AI capable of putting hundreds of high-quality images in front of a client in days for a tiny percentage of the cost, the clients will be dictating what happens next and that will be the end of advertising as we know it. Art directors and artists will be reduced to one kid typing in random prompts until the client sees something they like. Entire agencies will close when the clients decide to hire that one kid and do everything in-house.

Is this inevitable?  Is it “just good business?” I don’t know. I do know this. I started in advertising in 1987. It was a great field to work in. There was abundant work, lots of money and endless amounts of talented and fascinating characters to work with. I met some of my best friends in that industry. If you’ve ever seen Mad Men you know that advertising was even crazier back then. Everything is going to change and not for the better. The art world is going to change, and not for the better. Will there be a ton of new and amazing AI art? Probably. Will it gut industries that employed thousands of people for decades? Yes. Will it gut art schools and deter promising young artists from going into that profession? Absolutely. You can make the argument that artists will be artists and create because they have to, it’s the way they’re wired…but I can guarantee you, they won’t forever. After watching AI do it faster and cheaper, after getting low-balled on price for every job they’ll quit.  Everyone, even artists have their limits. Eventually anybody will be able to type in a few words and pop out some amazing creation. Will that benefit the world, will it generate new and exciting industries to replace the ones it kills? Or will it decimate this industry and several others creating an even larger income gap between the workers and the owners and leave millions unemployed and forced once again to recreate themselves and learn to live with less? Personally, I think it’s the second while hoping for the first. And once again I find myself asking the same question. Should it?



Link to share

Use this link to share this article