Since Everyone Else is Talking About It…

It seems I can’t go two days without hearing about or reading about or getting swindled into a conversation about Artificial Intelligence.

AI can do so much right now. I saw a video the other day where someone uploaded their resume and a job posting, and the AI created a cover letter, free of any errors, within 10 seconds. And while I’m not sad at the thought about not having to create another cover letter as long as I live, it goes a bit deeper than that. Where does that leave the ability to create A+ rhetorical analysis essays for high schoolers? Personal statements for college admissions? Critical essays regarding society’s biggest pitfalls?

Am I too young to be tapping onto the side of me that wants to scream about “the importance of hard work and learning for the sake of hard work and learning”? Perhaps this is how mathematicians felt with the invention of the TI-85 calculator?? There are clearly great things that have come from AI, like the ability to make therapy more accessible and detect cancer earlier.

In other words: C H I L L.

But in other (more accurate) words: AI is just going to be getting better, and with the creation of AI Art, I have absolutely no ability to chill.

Okay, so I’m feeling a little ~melodramatic~ lately, I admit it, but I’ve also been thinking about this a LOT about AI art over the last few months. (Also, I predominantly write Black Mirror-esque speculative fiction about how most technology is ruining our world, so I’m sure you can see the correlation between AI art and my melodrama?)

I’m very anxious to see a world where AI art is the norm, and therefore people become very dismissive of art created by humans. Because AI can create a riveting short story in 1 minute, why should I care about the ones you are writing? How will I have any appreciation for art that takes an entire lifetime to master, when with a few clicks on my computer, AI can create a version for me?

Sometimes I remember technology is so new in the story of humanity, and I’m not sure if we can ever really overstate how it is changed… everything.

ANYWAY, I’m hoping I’m overreacting and human’s desire to witness art by other humans will never go away. In fact, about a month ago, my friend Jim was telling me how some Native American tribes intentionally leave mistakes in their artwork. Perhaps he sensed the doom and gloom workings of my mind, and sought to lift my spirits. I researched it a bit and found a write-up on Conversations for Change that had some lovely tidbits. It did bring me comfort, so thanks Jim!

The intentional error as an expression of humility is considered a way to honor the Great Spirit and to acknowledge being human…

Other tribes see the mistake as a portal. In beading, the intentional mistake is called the ‘spirit bead’ and is believed to be the  gateway through which the Great Spirit can enter the art...It is not just Native Americans who include the practice of purposeful imperfection in their art. Persian rug weavers and Amish quilt makers are two other groups who employ similar policies in their craft. In addition to the expression of humility and honor, Persian rug weavers believe that mistakes also allow them to be more productive as they do not slow down their progress with needless worry, and that such freedom allows them to continually improve their skill. They support the paradox that practicing imperfection can allow you closer to perfection. 

The Important of Mistakes, Charly Hill

Listen: AI ain’t ever going to be making mistakes that allow the Great Spirit to enter its work.

It reminds me a bit of kintsugi, a more than 500-year-old Japanese tradition that adorns broken ceramics with a lacquer mixed with powdered gold. This highlights the imperfections rather than hiding them. This teaches you to stay calm when a cherished piece of pottery breaks, and works as a lovely reminder of the beauty of human fragility and error.

I know I’m always endeared when I’m enjoying a piece of art and I see a mistake (a typo in a novel, for example). It is a humbling moment that reminds me: ah, yes, someone was on the other side of this art, spending hours and hours pouring their heart and soul into it. That must count for something.

Even though AI may continue to rise and grow stronger… will that ever really stop artists from creating their art? Even now, there are a million and one things you can choose to do with your evenings, yet every Wednesday night, a group of 20+ writers in Bucks County, PA get together to work on their writing. None of the changing world has killed our spirit to create. Not yet, not ever.

So, sure. Maybe there’s more art in the world, and maybe more is made by robots, but that human desire to connect and process and share and grow will still exist. We just may have to seek out these kindred spirits. But they will be there.

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