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This blog has been written by humans

If reading the title you think "And who else?" it means that this blog is especially addressed to you. Perhaps, in a few years' time, this will be a rarity, a human spending precious time writing structured text around an idea. It is daunting to see how Artificial Intelligence performs this task with such ease, speed and certainty. People like you and me, who face the blank page with the imprecision and inefficiency typical of our species, shrug our shoulders at such a display of power.


In a previous blog, I wrote about Artificial Intelligence applied to image generation, particularly, its implications for industrial design. The results are equally impressive.

 

The debate is raging both on social media and on the street. Those who haven't tried it are looking down their noses at Artificial Intelligence, it won't be the first or the last time they are sold a lie about a technology that has come to replace us all. Those of us who have tried it have a sense that this time it is different. Every time the AI delivers an image, a text, or any other output of exceptional quality, part of us refuses to believe that there is no one behind it.


not to AI gereanted images
Logo of AI-generated art deniers


However, in the face of this panorama, there are more than a few professionals who have decided not to remain impassive. They are looking this technological monster in the eye and fearlessly declaring all-out war. Writers, artists, illustrators and designers are grouping together in associations that promote their fervent disagreement about the coming dystopia through social networks. In an effort to get to know the enemy, they dissect their work and find certain patterns that point to a weakness. Goliath is strong but not invincible, I imagine they think as they point out on twitter the unforgivable flaws in the illustrations of the book "Alice and Sparkle", co-written and co-illustrated in a single weekend by Ammaar Reshi and the AI.


alice and sparkle book mistakes and error critics
Critiques of "Alice and Sparkle"

The crusading knights breathe a sigh of relief as hordes of haters descend on the""""""writer"""""". They had found not only one Achilles' heel but hundreds of them: six-fingered characters, loss of coherence in the narrative, aberrations, and sudden changes of style. Having dotted the i's and crossed the t's, all that remains is waiting. In a few months, AI will meet the same fate as the metaverse, NFTs, or that cryptocurrency with the logo of a dog: a thing of the "past".


Or maybe not?


A couple of years ago there were few of us who felt that something big was brewing in the world of machine learning. When the first algorithms started to return images or text with a slight, very slight meaning, no one thought that their craft was being threatened. The resulting images were absolutely terrifying and the chatbots had the conversational level of a three-year-old. But in reality, the real magic was happening behind the scenes, away from the gaze of onlookers, the bots were learning. Learning means understanding, analyzing, and correcting mistakes. Learning means improving. This is the real power and potential of AIs, and it seems that few seem to grasp its implications.


Goliath is not dead, he is training. And in this phase of training, he needs feedback from our people. We are moving towards these free online services like mosquitoes towards the light. Cookies: Accept. Privacy policy: Accept. Terms of use: Accept.


AI generated robot images friendly
A Robot - Stable Diffusion

I imagine 2024 as a calmer year, the first wave of the AI furor has passed and nobody, or almost nobody, has lost their job. The Anti-IA club has stopped printing stickers. They have replaced swords with graphic tablets. Nobody seems to be interested in the illustrations of six-fingered children or the writing of bipolar texts that tell you one thing or the opposite. The world is back to the way we knew it. However, the supercomputers of the big technology companies do not sleep. Data is processed at dizzying speeds and information is computed in the form of neural networks. Illustrations of characters with five fingers, absolutely coherent narratives, images indistinguishable from photographs... In the not-too-distant future, execution will be flawless.


What is the point of criticizing the book Ammaar Reshi in the face of this inevitable development? Criticizing the quality of images only buys them time, little time. So where does this leave us? Who is safe? Where are the limits?


If only we had the answers to these questions. While those answers are forthcoming, at Trem, far from sensing a dystopian future that will leave our people behind, we debate the issue and make a series of reflections.


  1. From hand-made to human-made: The industrial revolution put an end to a large part of the crafts related to mass production, but it did not put an end to craftsmanship. In many cases, it is almost impossible to tell whether a piece is made with the experience and expertise of a craftsman or with the precision of an industrial process. It is even imperfections that give us the clue that something is hand-made. This label is not synonymous with less value, even if the production is less accurate and efficient, but rather the opposite. In fashion, furniture, decoration, tableware... Handmade is not a guarantee of better finishes, materials, or prices, but it is synonymous with authenticity, exclusivity, and certain values.

  2. The manager: Although AI execution will be excellent, no one is solely an executor. Whether you are an illustrator, designer, writer, or artist, professional work is never exclusively execution. Decision-making, client contact, prior study, team coordination, time management... A good professional is not an excellent machine, it is much more. And although all these issues can be better managed by using an AI to process the available data more accurately, we have seen enough science fiction films to know that decision-making is influenced by more factors than analytics. From moral criteria to personal preferences.

  3. Bias: Humans have a very particular database. None of us has the absolute truth, we have areas that are very empty of knowledge, others brimming with false information, and others full of contradictions. A large part of the information we have is about ourselves: experiences, emotions, opinions, ideologies, traumas... This mixture of data is far from being the most efficient for a particular work, but it is exclusive and unique to each one of us, which is no small thing. The artist's gaze or a writer's tone is shaped by this series of biased, incomplete, and unstructured data. Hence, the immense variety and diversity of our personalities, opinions, criticisms, and judgments. DALL-E 2 is capable of "painting" exquisite works of art by imitation and alteration, but never from a unique and particular gaze resulting from this random combination of inputs.

  4. Data: AIs learn based on a database. What is not there does not exist for them. Lies that are told as true in databases will become true. We will not live long enough to read the books, encyclopedias, and web pages that AI can study in seconds. But how much of what we know about this world comes from books or the internet? The human species has a limited capacity to retain information, but also an excellent capacity to glean it from the interactions between our own and our environment. AIs can define emotions perfectly, but can they really understand them without feeling them? Can a blind person see through a sighted person's description? A human understands the text between the lines of a curt reply, a smile, or a laugh. Maybe Siri, Alexa, or Google think they know so much about you, but do they "really" know who you are?

AI generated image of hands
Hands generated by AI - Stable Diffusion

It is clear that the doors to a new world are opening. Science fiction is becoming science fiction by leaps and bounds. No one knows how new technologies will transform the world we live in, but there is still time to be part of the change. We, the people who live in today's world, are in charge of shaping tomorrow's world. As of today, we have a number of artificially intelligent tools at our disposal. How we use them is up to each of us. As Aunt May said: " With great power comes great responsibility".

 


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