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May 23, 2024 | Katelyn Keenehan

Could artificial intelligence replace artists? This expert says no.

The Maker City Meet-ins are held monthly, and organized by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is seeping into nearly every artistic industry. AI is doing music, AI is doing images, AI is doing video, AI is writing stories, and AI is even learning karaoke. Where does it end?

Perhaps we should start with where it begins.

Gary G.S. Jackson, who is a director and consultant for CGI spoke to the Maker City at the meet-in on Monday. He shared a bit of background about the slow, stealth mode progression of AI over the years.

In 2019, years before the AI revolution, Jackson featured an article in Esquire magazine. Half was written by people, and half was written by robots. At the time, the general public couldn’t identify which was which.

In 2020, AI really took the American public by storm. Deepfakes started surfacing across the internet about Donald Trump, Joe Biden, and other candidates. Even Jackson himself was the victim of a deep fake interview that aired on Russian television.

Today, we see AI in virtually every setting. Artificial influencers like “Miquela” have millions of followers, multi-million-dollar brand deals, and fame. People on the internet are using generative AI to enhance their photos, bodies, and brands. Robots are making remixes of your favorite song, discovering new beats, and even writing lyrics.

“With AI, it just gobbles up data like Pac-Man pellets. It’s not citing sources,” Jackson said. “It’s just a congregation and mixture of human creativity, research, and product.”

He explained that no AI models act independently; but, instead, do exactly what people ask them to do. Essentially, AI cannot even be created without human creativity.

“AI sits and twiddles its thumbs until someone prompt-engineers it to do something. And it can’t do anything that hasn’t already been guided by humans. It’s not doing anything new… it’s just dumbing it down to a congregate average,” Jackson said.

Plus, new human innovations continue to establish ways in which original images, songs, and videos can be traced back to the user. Jackson also said blockchain technologies will help keep those creations secure.

For example, various companies are exploring the idea of digital signatures, which would give credit to the original creator.

So, while artists may worry about AI infiltrating different mediums of human expression, Jackson strongly believes AI will not surpass human creativity. He believes there will always be a treasured place for makers in American culture.

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