By Iris Campbell
The rise of AI-chatbot ChatGPT poses a fundamentally important question to all internet-users today: when does one become too reliant on technology, and when does it pose a threat to intellectual stimulation? The debate is already well underway internationally, and one of the biggest threats is to that of creative careers. Technology now being able to overtake jobs traditionally done by humans, such as graphic design, photoshop and sound editing, poses a direct threat to careers in the media and the arts. It also marks a change in terms of originality: if all people can now type ‘write me a song’ into a search engine, who determines true talent? Does it simply disappear, or is it replaced by something generic, lacking entirely in meaning? If all artists are replaced by the internet’s ability to do their job for them, passion and originality are erased from society.
Technological advancements also pose a threat to the minds of all generations: both ours, and the future. Remove independent thought and creative stimulants from work and there is little left to help grow the mind in its production of critical and creative thoughts. Children posed with the option to do work themselves over a longer period of time or get it done by something else over a span of 60 seconds would most likely choose the latter. However if technology is relied on too heavily (as in more than just a tool to stimulate creativity and inspiration), then where does individuality make its way in? It simply doesn’t. Artistic abilities are lost before they are found because there is no reason for one to search for them; the same goes for the most vital critical thinking skills.
Many creatives have already intertwined themselves within the debate, such as singer-songwriter Nick Cave. He called it a ‘grotesque mockery of what it is to be human’ when he responded to a song ‘in the style of Nick Cave’ on Twitter, in January 2023. He is not incorrect. If computers are able to echo human interpretations of entirely human experiences, mirroring human intelligence, all true meaning is erased from what it is to create art. It is also a slightly off-putting thought: computers can generate mockeries of the human experience with no intelligence of the actual human experience. The song’s chorus, darkly biblical and contrasting, consisted of the lines: ‘I am the sinner, I am the saint / I am the darkness, I am the light / I am the hunter, I am the prey / I am the devil, I am the saviour’. Not entirely shocking for a mock-up of Nick Cave, however not entirely interesting; but simply the action of creating ‘fake art’ close enough to the real thing poses a threat, and displays the rising intelligence of these technologies. The idea of art being replaced by meaningless code and the livelihoods of artists being tainted by the ability of computers to mirror their work without any effort is terrifying.
The artist himself has made his own opinion clear: ‘I do not feel the same enthusiasm about this technology.’ He writes. ‘I understand that ChatGPT is in its infancy but perhaps that is the emerging horror of AI – that it will forever be in its infancy, as it will always have further to go, and the direction is always forward, always faster. It can never be […] slowed down, as it moves us towards a utopian future, maybe, or our total destruction. Who can possibly say which?’ Many share the same view; technology’s advancement should be viewed with constant caution and the knowledge that creativity and originality should never be abandoned, even when faced with easier options. These virtues are vital to humanity.