The Future Sucks
I've been thinking a lot about AI art lately. It's suddenly everywhere, in a way that NFTs were a year ago. And it makes sense, it's another angle in the tech bro mission to turn everything into a commodity, and them and their VC backers are relentless, until the next shiny buzz word-laden bullshit tech comes along.
We're at a place now where these tech bros are "making children's books," or using AI art to enter art contests, without stating they're using AI to make the art. They haven't done anything, but in their mind, they're artists. Or at least, they claim to think so. I'm not entirely sure that claim is genuine. Me using Bibliocommons to find a book does not make me a librarian.
Am I angry? You bet! If this had come 15-20 years ago, I'm sure I would have been more receptive. If you had told me then that I would loathe tech companies, I wouldn't have believed you. But when the cards are on the table, the major tech companies of the world have shown time and time again they're going to plan the hand that makes them the most money, not the hand that does the most good. But shareholders do not want the most good. The most good will bankrupt you.
So here's how the future of art looks if this keeps up: AI will homogenize the art world. Capitalism doesn't innovate, it iterates, so anything that deviates beyond the norm that attracts attention will go into The Machine, and that new, interesting art will be stripped for parts and made ready for Consumption. Art will be Cheap, and it will be looked at as such. Why do art when a machine will do what you want for you?
But here's what I've learned as an elder Millennial: anything handmade, a bespoke item made by a person, has more value than anything mass produced. You can buy your friends a scarf, but it will never be as nice and as thoughtful as someone who made a scarf for you. I can see a clear drop off in people who try to make a living from art, because some douche bag will happily crank out commissions from their Commission Maker AI. It will be enough for some people, enough to clear the field.
But I also see the quiet movements happening online, people rejecting social media and building websites, making goofy zines about the things they like, not what's marketable. For some, Twitter (will there even be Twitter five years from now?) will be enough. But for others, NeoCities, or Itch.io, or Gemini space, or any number of other things, will be a home. And they'll still make amazing art with their own skills, developed over years, because it's what they do. And that will be worth more than anything any AI tool will ever make.