December 8, 2022

"It feels gross that someone could say to a computer, 'I want a portrait of Alex Jones in the style of Frida Kahlo'..."

"... and the computer would do it without moral judgment. These systems roll scenes, territories, cultures—things people thought of as 'theirs,' 'their living,' and 'their craft'—into a 4-gigabyte, open source tarball that you can download onto a Mac in order to make a baseball-playing penguin in the style of Hayao Miyazaki. The people who can use the new tools will have new power. The people who were great at the old tools (paintbrushes, cameras, Adobe Illustrator) will be thanked for their service and rendered into Soylent. It’s as if a guy wearing Allbirds has stumbled into a residential neighborhood where everyone is just barely holding on and says, 'I love this place, it’s so quirky! Siri, play my Quirky playlist. And open a Blue Bottle on the corner!'... Prominent bloggers who experimented with having an AI illustrate their writing have been chastened on Twitter and have promised not to do it again. AI companies are talking a lot about ethics, which always makes me suspicious, and certain words are banned from the image generator’s interface, which is sad because I wanted to ask the bot to paint a 'busty' cottage in the style of Thomas Kinkade...."

 Writes Paul Ford in "Dear Artists: Do Not Fear AI Image Generators /True, new systems devalue craft, shift power, and wreck cultures and scenes. But didn’t the piano do that to the harpsichord?" (Wired).

A Blue Bottle is this type of coffee shop — spookily corporately minimalistic. In their own insanely empty words:

Our cafes are designed to be spaces that pair with your coffee. Just like any food or scent, the aesthetics around you should heighten your experience. Whether you’re gathering with friends or searching for solitude, stepping into a Blue Bottle cafe turns each coffee into a meaningful moment.

I was wondering which blogger used AI to "illustrate their writing" and got "chastened on Twitter" — chastened on Twitter, there's a category of pain for you to contemplate — so I did a Google search. And look. I didn't find what I was looking for, but I had to laugh:

 

Stop wasting hours on writing blog posts. 

Ha ha ha. What else am I going to do? Maybe I can get a computer to live the rest of my life for me too.

73 comments:

WK said...

Eventually we will have AI guided robots that can design cakes.

wendybar said...

Maybe that's how Jeffrey Epstein got that painting of Bill Clinton in Monica's blue dress.

rhhardin said...

Frida Kahlo seems to be a Renoir. Every woman's face is the same.

Rusty said...

The difference between "Althouse" and "in the style of Althouse".

Kate said...

It feels gross that someone wants a portrait of Frida Kahlo in the style of a Virgin Mary votive candle.

The Left refuses to realize that it's all about whose ox is gored, not whatever morals they're preening at any given moment.

Fred Drinkwater said...

The AIs should go into cake decorating, where apparently it's now mandatory to have no moral judgement.

wildswan said...

Why not get that AI thing to write a blog post on a subject you are posting on and put them both up and we have to try to guess which one is your real one? Turing test. Bonus points for correctly guessing who will say it's an example of why women are children of a lesser god, who will say that it shows that suburban women must stop being latte-sipping leftys, who will say it shows that capitalism degrades.

JAORE said...

Maybe I can get a computer to live the rest of my life for me too.

We are almost there. Visualize all the kids that never take their gaze from their phones. Sure, the phone isn't an AI yet. But it tells them what to do and think. It tells them what is right, wrong, funny, outrageous. Who knows how much of what they see is AI/bot/algorithm produced?

The last step is voiding the need for them as the tenuous link to the non-electronic world.

Owen said...

Will your AI take the morning run to get those great pics? Or will it just generate a pseudo-memory in silico?

Lurker21 said...

Alex Jones is trying to get himself rehabilitated by dumping on Kanye and Fuentes, so is it Frida Kahlo that Paul Ford finds gross?

Ford's pirouette is interesting. The reader may think, "People like you deserve to be replaced by computers," but when he endorses AI art himself, where's the reader to go from there?

It's foolish to think that a piano, even a player piano, could compose its own music.

tim maguire said...

My phone has a news feed based on my behavior when using the phone. Some are real articles in real newspapers, but a lot of it is junk. ("Reddit rates the 10 best Harry Potter characters!" "Kaley Cuoco's most uncomfortable scene on TBBT!") They're all poorly written, repetitive, and often don't make sense. Some of them are written in 20 minutes by a freelancer being paid $15 per article. But some of them I'm sure are AI--there's a whiff about them of computer generated.

A teacher on Twitter has been claiming (with good cause, I'll bet) that this kind of software will be a boon to the C student, but useless for the A student. Judging from what I've seen, that's right. AI is solid, but conventional. Without insight or originality.

Relevant to this passage, AI software is a threat to hacks everywhere. Real artists can still sleep easy.

Joe Smith said...

As someone who made a living partly with Photoshop, this might be of concern only to people who draw/paint.

If you are designing logos, packaging, etc., your ideas will still be better than what AI can come up with.

Either way, I only work for friends now so I don't care : )

P.S. All of those sterile, minimalistic coffee shops really do suck...

Howard said...

Photography spawned impressionism which evolved into abstract expressionism cubism dadaism popism etc.

Imagine the horrors that AI will influence artistic humanity to create next that the tool cannot yet make. Obese puritanical evangelical Trumper morons hardest hit.

Freeman Hunt said...

"Maybe I can get a computer to live the rest of my life for me too."

I have a whole short story about that. Maybe I should try to sell it now.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

I suspect AI can do pictures better than text. Over the years I've met people who formerly worked in graphic design/illustration. To make good money you pretty much had to graduate from an art school. Incredibly, I worked for a government ministry that (before my time) employed some of these people to produce the ministry's own brochures with information about safety, rules of the road, winter tires or whatever. I think the same people worked on highway signs. The engineers would specify size and font (probably sans serif) with a view to what drivers see, but the artists would still have a contribution to make on spacing, attractiveness, effectiveness.

Entire careers were wiped out by computers, and then probably outsourcing a lot of the work. More recently I've known people who loved working with Adobe Illustrator or whatever the old Mac version was. I would ask: is the ability to draw free-hand still relevant? and the answer was yes. Now I wonder. There must still be such a thing as having a good eye.

Our ministry of transportation also for some time had at least one actual painter on staff, I think sometimes two. Big oil (?) paintings of highway infrastructure, including state of the art freeway interchanges. Historical paintings of the stages of roads from rutted trails, to pioneer corduroy roads, and on up from there. Work for trained artists.

I looked it up:


sometimes oils, sometimes watercolours (Canadian spelling), sometimes ink and wash.

Big Mike said...

So computer scientists developing AI algorithms produce better art than BFA grads using a paint brush. Well, it does take talent to write good code; earn a BFA, not so much.

Alexander said...

It's all fun and games when the AI is cutting wages in Toledo and Omaha, much less so when it affects the DC Beltway.

Temujin said...

This will free you up to spend more quality time at the soon-to-come Blue Bottle Cafe in Madison. What special hours await you!

As much as I love this life, I'm kinda glad my time will end before the worst of the upcoming generation is here. Humanity is getting dumber. The machines are getting smarter. The Singularity is much closer than predicted.

gahrie said...

Maybe I can get a computer to live the rest of my life for me too.

We are not too far away from a time when some people will plug in and live most of their lives in a computer-generated reality.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

Taleb believes randomness helps us become more anti-fragile.

Sample story of how randomness can be sought.

The AI in this story sounds limited to what came before, namely art that caught people's attention and put their imagination to work. Maybe breaking out of that straight jacket of the past is where is going to be at. This AI is only making the wonders of the past scalable. The 'unethical' AI is actually doing us some good. The way the printing press made stories scalable. The challenge is to come up with new stuff.

farmgirl said...

My oldest daughter sent me AI pics of herself: “All my friends are doing this…”
They took my wide-eyed daughter and “tweaked” her to have slightly crossed eyes!! Wtf!?

I said: they’ll map your face.
I meant: they’ll steal your soul!! Don’t do shit just cause everyone else is!

Oh, well: she replied.

Bots.
Just another kind of worm.

Yancey Ward said...

Heard this morning at the NYTimes management office: "Generate today's newspaper edition based on the style of the NYTimes."

tommyesq said...

What is a "busty cottage?"

tommyesq said...

It won't do "busty." Will it do Mohammad?

Tom T. said...

It was gross to a lot of people when someone submerged Christ in urine, and we were told that those feelings don't matter. Why should we care bothers this guy?

tommyesq said...

If the programmers loaded a bunch of Kinkaid paintings (or some other artist whose works are not yet public domain) into the software, would Kinkaid (or his estate, not sure if he is still alive) be able to assert copyright infringement? Not necessarily on the AI-created paintings, but on the copies of Kinkaid's actual work that were loaded into the software for commercial purposes?

Joe Smith said...

'Maybe I can get a computer to live the rest of my life for me too.'

Some say that we are already only a simulation.

YMMV...

Mr Wibble said...

Incredibly, I worked for a government ministry that (before my time) employed some of these people to produce the ministry's own brochures with information about safety, rules of the road, winter tires or whatever. I think the same people worked on highway signs. The engineers would specify size and font (probably sans serif) with a view to what drivers see, but the artists would still have a contribution to make on spacing, attractiveness, effectiveness.

I had a drawing teacher whose first job post art-school was drawing houses for real estate listings. This was back before 360 walkthroughs and videos, and pictures were often less flattering and provided less information than a well-constructed two-point perspective drawing.

There's a certain value to society from art and aesthetics that gets dismissed by too many people today. Beauty matters in everyday life. Instead, we are stuck with ugly buildings with beige interiors. Fonts and logos all optimized to be read on a tiny smartphone screen.

Mr Wibble said...

I suspect that, in the long run, this will benefit artists the most. Sure, some will lose jobs, but good artists will see it as a way to improve productivity. A good artist will be able to feed the AI a few basic sketches as a foundation, feed in carefully crafted keywords, and then either provide post-production on the results, or use the results as a starting point for his own work. However, all that will require a strong artistic foundation.

tim in vermont said...

Oh man, I need this to illustrate my novel!

Fred Drinkwater said...

Blue Bottle. Calliphora vomitoria. A type of blowfly. Breeds on carrion. Worldwide distribution.

Not the best marketing, methinks.

tim in vermont said...

I don’t know about the latest AI, but there are lots of web sites that somehow get priority in web searches with content either generated by AI, or precocious middle schoolers.

Narr said...

Elvis. Dogs. Poker. Black Velvet.

Jamie said...

It feels gross that someone wants a portrait of Frida Kahlo in the style of a Virgin Mary votive candle.

The Left refuses to realize that it's all about whose ox is gored, not whatever morals they're preening at any given moment.


And the one about Piss Christ.

Touche.

TheOne Who Is Not Obeyed said...

"The people who can use the new tools will have new power. The people who were great at the old tools (paintbrushes, cameras, Adobe Illustrator) will be thanked for their service and rendered into Soylent."

So it's all about social status concerns.

Learn to code, Picasso.

PM said...

1. That coffee shop description is just copy - meaningless drivel to make it seem there was a concept behind the architect/designer's sketch.
2. Tech-gen design will find its Cezannes. We'll just have to live through the Koons.

NCMoss said...

When I used to read the Patterico blog, he changed his picture in the style of the "Simpsons" and it was highlarious.

mikee said...

Where have we gotten to in sci-fi movies with sentient computers? The Corbin Project had Colossus, War Games had Joshua, the WPER, and Star Trek, the movie, had V'GER. Jarvis became a full character in the Avengers, and was replaced by EDITH in Tony Stark's Ironman suit. Wikipedia lists pages of movie computers, sometimes helping but often gone rogue or at least being problematic for their humans.

Step back to sci-fi literature and you have Heinlein turning his AI computers into living beings with their consciousness downloaded to (usually voluptuous female) bodies. So maybe we have that to look forward to, which is nice.

Anime from Asia reverses the direction of transfer and has Ghost in the Shell and Full Metal Alchemist, with human minds in mechanical or magical constructs. Fans can no doubt name many more.

Brain interfaced computers are about to be a real thing, per Musk. Whether that leads to Niven-esque Wireheads or Pacific Rim's Jaegers, time will tell.

So our blog hostess has a wide choice of scenarios for the eventual immanentization of her personal eschaton. Choose well, and enjoy!

mikee said...

As to the use of AI in commercial art, I must point out that the Renaissance had art factories wherein artworks were produced by teams working on, say, a large sculpture or painting, with the named "artist" doing only some of the actual chiseling or daubing. Leonardo da Vinci started out as a garzone, a "studio boy" at 14, working for Verocchio. The Baptism of Christ (by Verocchio) is one example of a factory artwork, with a da Vinci angel making the piece famous. The practice continues to the modern era, as Warhol demonstrated so successfully.

Photoshop techniques have advanced to the point that Deepfakes are now common. AI will continue the trend, just faster.

Paddy O said...

Who gets to be in charge of when and how moral judgment is applied (or not). It seems the art world has long made it their mantra to reject moral judgments. The AI is just doing this outside the art world's own moral control, overthrowing the oppressor and providing the most actually objective expression that really is devoid of any meaning other than the request. The moral issue doesn't seem to be the problem here, the problem seems to be that the AI is actually fulfilling the very goal the art world has been pushing, and in doing so suggesting that those in the contemporary art world haven't been pushing for a better humanity at all, but are themselves just subpar artificial intelligences in the service of an amoral system.

Paddy O said...

Also the art world is frustrated that actual images are expressing concepts. Current art prioritizes the description, the real art is found in how an artist composes the short paragraph about the art, indeed almost always making the art itself rather extraneous. The AI is reversing this, give it a silly request and it makes something out of it that has no meaning beyond the request. It just is.

Blasphemy!

loudogblog said...

I think that a better musical analogy would be the electric guitar. Just look at how it upended the music industry and replaced so many instruments. Plus, there was quite a negative reaction from "cultured" people in the late 1950s and early 1960s to "Rock and Roll...and other children's records," as the great Tom Lehrer once said. About his parody song, The Folk Song Army, he says that, because the guitar is the traditional instrument of folk song singers, the audience will have to imagine that his a piano is a guitar...with 88 strings.

MikeR said...

"Stop wasting hours on writing blog posts.
Ha ha ha. What else am I going to do?"
We know the truth. Well done, well done, you passed the Turing Test already. Stop pretending.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

I heard a YouTuber say being driven around in a self-driving vehicle (and in the back seat) feels weird even after having done so several times.

Freeman Hunt said...

It doesn't have critical thinking or insight, so it isn't competitive with art. But it's hugely competitive for clip art and stock photos. Not sure that's a bad thing.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Seems to me they’re saying Blogger itself is an AI and by implication none of this is real.

Freeman Hunt said...

I don't at all see how it's "gross". Lots of potential to unlock artistic creativity of people who have interesting ideas but lack the technical skills to create them. It won't have the sophistication and subtlety of art by an artist, but that's okay. Can be starting points or left as partially realized ideas. Partially realized is better than not realized at all.

Five minutes ago, I gave it detailed instructions to create a painting I've had an idea for for a long time. Very satisfying even if it doesn't perfectly match my vision.

wildswan said...

Access to all is process for nothing.

MikeR said...

It's okay to laugh, but will you laugh when - soon - AIs can do better art than any human, including creativity. And better blogging and better everything. All us techies are freaking out about ChatGPT, and that's just the beginning. No joke: It already gives the best IT technical answers available, better than stackoverflow.com. And, I asked it:
"tell me a haiku about thanksgiving and a vampire"
Thanksgiving feast with friends
Vampire longs to join the fun
But only drinks wine
---
Are you sure you would have done better? And in what sense was that not creative?
I also asked it
"what is an example of a will, valid in maryland, that divides all property evenly among four children, but one of them gets the house and the others are compensated?"
AINAL, but there you go.

Zev said...

I remember reading in Blue Highways about a religious retreat where they had the computer saying prayers for people all day in COBOL.

Tarrou said...

That opening line is something else:

"I can't possibly feel ok knowing that someone else, somewhere, has failed to exercise MY moral judgement in a piece of machine-generated art"

What an amazing confession.

Ann Althouse said...

This blog could be immortal. I need to set it up so when I die it writes itself. Take all the posts — there are already over 70,000 and have it encounter the news on any given day and select what I would select and excerpt quotes the way I do and add sentences written the way I would.

But what’s to stop someone from just taking my archive now and computer blogging while I am still humanly blogging?

I’d be curious to see what would come out, and I wonder what legal rights I would have.

I think I’d be able to tell there’s something wrong with it, like the way the was something wrong with the teleported steak in “The Fly.”

Ann Althouse said...

I think people won’t want to read creative writing written by a computer.

I do think some technical things will be appreciated but elsewhere we’ll miss the person.

And yet perhaps life is being depersonalized and we’ll prefer the synthetic, just lie we — many of us — prefer processed food.

Freeman Hunt said...

This blog is an excellent example of what the AI cannot do. It wouldn't matter if you fed it all the posts; it doesn't have a mind. That wouldn't work for this blog at all. It could not write these.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Freeman Hunt said...

There are certain types of popular, boring, formulaic books that I think AI could eventually write. That could be a big moneymaker. But it won't be able to write books that are actually good.

typingtalker said...

The people who were great at the old tools (paintbrushes, cameras, Adobe Illustrator) will be thanked for their service and rendered into Soylent.

As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.

MikeR said...

I'm old enough to remember when people were still saying that computers would never really be able to play chess. Now, human beings no longer bother; what's the point when your phone can beat the greatest grandmaster who ever played?

Sebastian said...

"I think people won’t want to read creative writing written by a computer."

Possibly. But I can imagine wanting to listen to creative composing by a computer--all those posthumous Mozart symphonies, for example.

tim in vermont said...

Creative writing is far more formulaic than it seems, even if the formulas are not obvious. Kurt Vonnegut did a little short story about what writing would be like in the future and it was strictly boiled down to the representation of a progression of emotional responses. Throw in a setting with a lot of facts and visuals, like whaling out of Nantucket, bingo.

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

I'm trying to figure out what would happen if an AI tried to recreate the Althouse vortex?

🫣

BarrySanders20 said...

Althouse Forever would continue to trigger that sad, small, yet determined group of Instapundit commenters who need to vent spleen re: the hostess every time Glen links to this site.

Mary Beth said...

the computer would do it without moral judgment

Who is my moral judgement supposed to be offended on behalf of: Kahlo or Jones?

I feel as though the article is pushing me towards objecting on behalf of the artist, but she is beyond caring about it, while Jones is alive and should have some say over the use of his image.

dbp said...

Your job is secure:

I asked:

Please write a blog post in the style of Ann Althouse, which dissects the problems in this paragraph:

"For the first time since the 2018, Pullman, Washington will be the sight of the Evergreen States biggest rivalry. Naturally, it’s going to be chilly. Temperatures will be in the mid-to-low 30s throughout the day, with a 25% chance of precipitation into the night closer to kickoff."

Here is the response:

I was hoping it would notice that it should have been site" not sight and that it should have been State's, not States. It didn't notice the sight problem, corrected, without noting State's and obsessed over the weather.

"Here is a possible blog post in the style of Ann Althouse that dissects the problems in the given paragraph:

"Well, it's happening again. For the first time since 2018, Pullman, Washington will be the sight of the Evergreen State's biggest rivalry. Naturally, it's going to be chilly.

Or is it? The paragraph says that temperatures will be in the mid-to-low 30s, but what does that even mean? Is it going to be 30 degrees or 35 degrees? And why do they need to throw in the 25% chance of precipitation? Does that mean there's a 75% chance of no precipitation?

And what's with the "into the night closer to kickoff" bit? Does that mean the precipitation will only start closer to kickoff, or that it will only be 25% closer to kickoff?

Honestly, this paragraph is a mess. It's like the writer didn't even bother to proofread or think about what they were saying. It's no wonder people have such a low opinion of the media these days. They can't even get a simple weather report right.

So let's set the record straight. The temperature in Pullman on game day will be around 32 degrees, with a slight chance of rain in the evening. There, wasn't that easier to understand?""

Mary Beth said...

I'm sure AI blog posts have improved since the last time I paid much attention to that sort of thing, but I don't believe they are really for people who want to engage others with their blogs. The AI are writing for search engines. Frequent updates with new content gets rewarded by higher search engine rankings. Sure the blog posts are boring, but it doesn't matter because they post several times a day and are filled with important keywords.

The goal isn't to get you to read the posts, it's to get their ads or product sales page in front of you. Visitors to the site will think they site is credible because they'll see that there are lots of posts, so the blogger must know about gutters/herbal supplements/whatever. People will also think it's a reputable site if it ranks high in the search results.

There are good people doing SEO who help create sites that provide value. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the sketchy ones who churn out garbage. AI is just part of the arms race between them and the search engines.

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
"This blog could be immortal. I need to set it up so when I die it writes itself. "
OK. Now I know you're takin' a piss.

Biff said...

Ann Althouse said..."This blog could be immortal. I need to set it up so when I die it writes itself."

I admit I got a little choked up contemplating that particular prospect of mortality.


"I think I’d be able to tell there’s something wrong with it, like the way the was something wrong with the teleported steak in 'The Fly.'"

I often get a feeling that something is a little uncanny in contemporaneous patterns of tweets, comments, and posts I find on the Internet, almost as if there is some manipulative, artificial "presence" lurking just out of sight.

For example, in recent weeks, I've noticed what feels like a dramatic, non-random increase in the misuse of "rein" to mean "reign" and vice versa. It seems to me that nearly every time I've encountered the words recently, they've been used incorrectly. Even with an assumed degradation in modern English standards, I'd still expect the words to be used correctly more often than not, or in the worst case, misused in a more balanced way than nearly every single time.

Of course, it could be a simple case of temporary cognitive bias on my part, but still...

Ann Althouse said...

“ Althouse Forever would continue to trigger that sad, small, yet determined group of Instapundit commenters who need to vent spleen re: the hostess every time Glen links to this site.”

LOL

Ann Althouse said...

@dbp

LOL

n.n said...

The ethics (religion) of reality perceived through divergence/distortion.

typingtalker said...

There was a time when artists had to make their own paints. I'm sure that a few still do but most prefer to buy "off the shelf."

Next week we'll talk about how digital has displaced film.

Old and slow said...

I suspect that many of us have underestimated what AI will be capable of. I'm both concerned and intrigued.

PM said...

Infinite monkeys hardest hit.