A Trilogy of Meditations on AI and Art (Part Three)

The prior two installments of this trilogy of meditations on artificial intelligence (AI) and art mused upon the contrast between AI and artists’ imaginations, and AI and the artists’ works.  In this final meditation, we ponder the AI versus artist’s audience.

The audience for art is heterogenous in their access and expectations from artists and their works.  Some purveyors seek entertainment, often the more escapist the better.  Generally, these individuals passively engage the art work.  (Think of the difference between watching television and reading a book.)  Other individuals, however, engage art to attain a measure of spiritual, moral, and/or intellectual edification.  These individuals actively engage the art work.  Both camps, of course, in varying degrees welcome works that provide both entertainment and edification; and experiences that require differing measures of active and passive engagement with the piece.  Nonetheless, whether one is actively seeking transcendent insights or passively enjoying a reprieve from the diurnal grind, everyone who engages with an AI generated product deemed “art” will be deleteriously impacted.

As I previously noted in American Greatness:

In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “The medium is the message.” Succinctly, he had distinguished between the medium and content; and asserted the medium was more powerful, if often more subtle, in its effect upon human behavior.

McLuhan was asserting that how human beings interact with technology will produce both seen and unforeseen consequences.  This constitutes the “message.”  Be it seeking escapism, edification, or both, the audience for art will be interacting with AI; consequently, people will be affected by this technology, as well as its generated “art” products’ content.

As the first meditation, AI versus the artists’ imagination, concluded, AI generated “art” products will erase the essence of art, namely an artist’s need “to express and affirm the essence of their own humanity and the universality of the human experience to another person.”  The severing of this essential connection between the artist and their work will dull the audience’s engagement with the work.

AI’s severing of the artist from their art will detrimentally impact both those actively engaging art to seek edification and those passively experiencing art solely for entertainment.  What a human and what a machine can relate about the human experience is vastly dissimilar.  From a human it is a cry of the mind, heart, and soul to their fellow human beings about our frail, finite lives; and, in many instances, a wholly unique and/or novel perception of our existence within this mortal coil.  Even allegedly “low brow” entertainment still bears the unique imprint and impressions of the artist(s) creating it.  Yet, from a machine, an AI generated “art” product is a synthesis of pre-programmed, extant observations of life – and, quite likely, from only one ideological perspective.

In fact, one of art’s greatest roles is to challenge the prevailing culture.  Yet, if the AI is programmed with a specific ideology that is regnant over the culture, any art product it generates will either conform to the culture; or be created to challenge the culture from the prism of how the programmer views the “counter-cultural” ideology.  Consequently, the art work becomes the very definition of “controlled opposition,” lacking in the true ideological and emotional commitment to truly challenge the audience’s culture.  It will be an exercise in defining the oppositional ideology and subtly immunizing the audience against it.  Try to imagine a Leftist programmed AI producing “right-wing” art to stir the populace into rejecting the woke DEI culture and restoring conservative societal principles.

In the second meditation, AI versus the artists’ works, I speculated how AI generated “art” products “will necessarily be derivative, emotionally sterile, and formulaic.”  Once again, the entire audience for artists’ works will be detrimentally impacted.  In this instance, however, what segment of the audience will be most impacted may well be inverted, with those seeking escapist entertainment likely being the most harmed.  Remembering McLuhan’s insight that the medium is the message, if one is continually and passively immersed in “derivative, emotionally sterile, and formulaic” AI generated “art,” there will be no escape from the day the audience’s minds ultimately mirror its entertainment.  And the opportunities for social and political indoctrination will be too great for the ideologues to resists – not that they would try in the first place.

But it will likely get worse.

In the first meditation, we cited director Joe Russo:

You could walk into your house and save the AI on your streaming platform. “Hey, I want a movie starring my photoreal avatar and Marilyn Monroe’s photoreal avatar.  …Suddenly now you have a rom-com starring you that’s 90 minutes long.  So you can curate your story specifically to you.

The number one subject engaged on the internet is pornography.  Combine that with what the WEF’s court prognosticator Yuval Noah Harari claims that we will need to relearn much of what it means to be human, including seeing and walking, due to the coming of the insidiously termed “virtual reality.”  (Sound minds understand there is only reality and unreality.)  The result?  Porn is the opiate of the masses.

Our free republic, in which citizens are sovereign and the servant government’s powers are delegated, limited, and exercised only with the consent of the governed, can only survive if citizens are active, informed, and vigilant people.  If sovereign citizens devolve into serfs, passively immersed in virtual reality’s incessant stream of emotionally sterile, ideologically dictated, often prurient AI generated “art” products provided, among other things, by an omnipotent tyranny, America will die.  It will be a damn hard way to realize art is essential to the health of our republic.  Not that anyone will be interested in such insights anymore.

Perhaps, the reports of a nascent rekindling of an interest in poetry may light the way forward amid the shadows of AI “art” products?

But that is for a later day….

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003-2012, and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars; and a Monday co-host of the “John Batchelor Radio Show,” among sundry media appearances.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.

Photo: Niagara, lobbycard, Marilyn Monroe, 1953. (Photo by LMPC via Getty Images)