The thing about artificial intelligence for me is, well, I don’t really give a shit about it. When it comes to technological advancement like this, I tend to imagine it will take humanity down the saddest, dumbest road possible. The fact that corporations are really stoked on AI is proof enough of that.
While I do think it’s incredibly stupid for people to be this obsessed over algorithms, there is no escaping a thing that will save the rich some money. I don’t think AI means we’ll be fighting off robot armies anytime soon, but I do think American culture will drift further away from genuine humanity and the gifts of creativity and delve deeper into a dark pit of recycled ideas. Branded and franchised culture is the fast food restaurant of 21st century America, and AI will make it that much easier to keep serving the same bullshit year after year.
Is it the end of art? No, the same way the Happy Meal wasn’t the end of food. But what the franchise strip malls and box stores did to the United States over the past 50 years—stagnating the wages of workers, creating food deserts, obliterating small business, make every suburb a variation of the same—branded entertainment will do to our minds over the next 50. From personal identity to social discourse, culture already plays a massive role in how we see ourselves and the world. This will only become more substantial as time moves on.
It’s disheartening to see AI involved in so much creative conversation, because it is inherently old hat. This is a technology that takes known information and reshuffles it—adding nothing to the world, only another interpretation. One of the few actual gifts of humanity is that of inspiration. Ideas can just come to us, and when we look at art, its perfection is in the humanity of it—the intonations of an actor in the moment, the use of aquamarine by a painter, the extra sixteenth-note in a composition. The nature of art is defined by the flourishes of artists whose imperfections create harmony in the most vital and human of ways.
These are things that cannot be learned, replicated, or especially created by a machine. We are not perfect beings and so our imperfect creations allow us to relate over their inherent flaws. Technology will lead to rich people getting richer—but our mainstream culture continuing to devolve into a puddle of shit, and a lot of flashy, meaningless advertisements will sell us trash to enjoy it all along the way.