Considering AI’s Role in Creativity as Robot Sells Painting for $700K

By Jonny Lupsha, Current Events Writer

Artificial intelligence recently broke a record by selling a painting for $ 700,000. The painting was a collaboration between a robot named Sophia and a human counterpart. How does the public react to computer-aided art?

In contemplating artistic creations, the human mind ascribes an intention to the artist’s intended piece; In artistic creations with artificial intelligence, the mind usually attaches less value to them. (Image: Shutterstock / Maxuser)

In March, a painting that began as a portrait of the Italian artist Andrea Bonaceto was completed based on his subject. It became a selfie and auctioned off for more than $ 688,000. The subject and collaborator was none other than Sophia the Robot, a famous humanoid robot that uses artificial intelligence (AI).

Works of art have long been considered an expression of what it means to be human. However, artificial intelligence paints, draws, composes and writes in increasing numbers. This has a number of enthusiasts doubting how unique the creative arts are to humanity and what role AI can or should play in the art world.

In her video series How Digital Technology Shapes Us, Dr. Indre Viskontas, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco, AI and the Creative Process.

Bach, Larson and Emmy

With recent exceptions like Sophia’s self-portrait collaboration, the public’s relationship with art created by AI is mixed.

“As soon as we find out that a work of art was created by a computer, it loses some of its value,” said Dr. Viscontas. “In 1997 […] Steve Larson watched his pianist Winifred Kerner play three pieces: one by Bach, one by Larson himself, and one by a computer program called Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI or Emmy) programmed by David Cope. “

The audience was then asked to choose which piece was written by which composer. The majority believed that Larson’s original was computer-written and that Emmys was the real Bach piece. Larson was sad, while Cope was not surprised and was already used to the angry reaction of the “betrayed” audience. Why?

“People get angry when they learn that what they believed to be the core of what it means to be human, to be expressively creative in the style of one of the greatest composers in history, is at stake and when they realize that this is exactly what human emotions have actually been manipulated by a machine, ”said Dr. Viscontas.

The psychology of creativity

The human reaction to works of art created by AI is based on the knowledge that the artist was a human, as opposed to a machine or a computer program. Why is that important again? Dr. Viskontas said it had to do with the way our brains process sounds that we believe were computer generated rather than human generated.

“We listen differently when we think a piece was composed by a computer because we don’t ascribe any intention to the machine,” she said. “When we hear what we think someone has written, we become more concerned with the parts of the brain involved in the theory of mind – our way of evaluating another person’s thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.

“It’s important for empathy, and compromising the theory of mind can make social interactions and relationships devilishly difficult.”

Dr. However, Viskontas said that AI programs that can win at chess or go, or compose classical music, often help us push our own limits and become better creative people ourselves once the initial shock wears off. Whether we’re driven by a sense of competition or inspired by ideas that come from a non-human perspective, we can use AI to go the extra mile in our respective fields.

Edited by Angela Shoemaker, The Great Courses Daily

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