There’s still room for us at the table

I’m one of those people who recognise the positive impact of AI on the creative process. For me, AI is particularly useful in helping me to distill large amounts of information quickly. This morning, for example, when I wanted to know the difference between allusion and homage, I simply asked ChatGPT.

Of course, I could have just Goggled it, but then I would have had to sift through a ton of links, decide which ones to further investigate, and then piece together an answer. I let the bot do that for me.

I also like to conjure up weird ideas like a goldfish challenging Kant on the categorical imperative and then having GPT-4 lay down a first draft for me, and then I do my human thing and apply “taste and discernment” to the draft, and then rework and edit the words to my liking, and hopefully to the liking of whom I perceive my audience to be. This is something Billy Oppenheimer argues AI can’t do:

Tools like ChatGPT are great at creating. AI can generate options in high quantities at high speed. It is great at providing more choices. But it is not great at discerning and choosing what to do and what not to do.

The Cup of Coffee Theory of AI

The perennial challenge of the artist, as Oppenheimer says is:

finding the middle of the Venn diagram where one circle is the artist’s tastes and the other is the audience’s tastes.

It’s hard enough for us artists to find this elusive sweet spot, and near impossible (at the moment) for AI to do this. The AI creates dispassionately; we (artists and writers) infuse the creation with emotional resonance.

The Oppenheimer argues that AI will never be able to solve the problem of taste and discernment since it is disconnected from reality and has never had the human experience. AI can generate quotes, statistics, and figures, but it can’t tell you what it’s like to read a line that exactly reflects something you’ve felt but couldn’t articulate. It can’t ensure that your work will connect with your audience or that your taste is “great.”

There will always be a need for humans in the creative process. After all, we are the ones who can find the middle ground between our tastes and the audience’s tastes.

h/t: The Cup of Coffee AI Theory

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