Machine learning creates professional level photographs

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by movingfinger, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Suspect they're here, but we can't communicate in either direction. Best for both, since humans are more ferocious than anything encountered so far. History!
  2. PapaTango

    PapaTango Itinerant Philosopher

    Ahh, a Sophisticated Luddite! :p

    But you have been assimilated--you simply choose which tools are useful at a particular time. I enjoy vintage fountain pens--writing by hand almost exclusively with them. Yet neither of us entered or interacted with this venue called PN and the innernutz via fountain pen... ;)

    I find myself surrounded by a growing population of souls who have never seen a rotary dial phone outside of a movie or yard sale. This was my entire childhood. Now I have a tiny bug in my ear and a thing the size of a small paper notepad in my pocket. No buttons needed--just say "Call Donna" or "Call Work" and the deed is done. In 30 years all of this is likely to be wearable tech--even to the point of corneal implants that provide the visual interface. Contact lenses that do this are presently in development. This stuff is not science fiction anymore. Hell, my phone is already making unsolicited suggestions as to where I eat, shop, get gas, or watch/listen to. Those that have been conditioned properly and live with their phone in hand most of the day are already mindlessly dancing to the tune.

    Hey, is that a Pokemon over there? :cool:
  3. Science Fiction the forerunner of Science fact.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Proviso: Good / intelligent Sci Fi.

    As to the Divine Boy, I think not. The difference is I am not surrounded -- at least at any meaningful distance.
    You might check Beloit College list of things incoming Freshmen know nothing about, unless you are spinning on that. Originally intended for the Profs.
  5. The machine learning linked in the OP is 100% human driven. It requires far more human input that "straight" photography. If you want to complain about comparative quantities of non-human creation, complain about straight photography. The camera is a machine.

    Non-human "straight"-ness is what many claim is the great virtue of "pure" photography. Manipulation = more human. Non-manipulation = more machine.
  6. Yes, but still there are subtle differences.
    AI is not the Hollywood vision of a self-concious robot. Even if anyone would want to go down that path, it's far off from today. And, AI and Deep Learning aren't Sci-Fi, they're today. Deep Learning is all about having enough data for algoritms to establish similarities, and deduct based on those. Language and image recognition are probably the widest used today (things as Google Translator, for example, use Deep Learning).
    Now, arguably that is a process that takes place in all of us (taking our cultural habits, surroundings, education and upbringing, and apply these experiences upon new situations), but all of us are working with a slightly different dataset, different weightings in the algoritm, different interpretations of similar data and different views on what similarities are. A much more complex mechanism, and far less likely to repeat itself identical (whereas Deep Learning would reach the same conclusion provided data doesn't radically change). AI and Deep Learning are at present much more about being able to more naturally interact and take more forms and variations of input, and yet come to reasoned and logical results; the quest isn't autonomous thinking. The utopian/dystopian visions of robots superseding us do not really apply here.

    Some may have read this thread on colouring B&W photos. I tried it with several photos, and what struck me most was that most results were very saturated and overdone in colours. But consider that the big data used for these kind of Deep Learning exercises are most likely the likes of Instagram and Flicks, those colours are actually quite typical for the average, and that's what I'd expect AI/Deep Learning to come up with. It doesn't make deliberate choices, the one big deliberate choice is what data to feed it and how to program its algoritms, and those are still human jobs.
    sjmurray, Supriyo and PapaTango like this.
  7. A somewhat singular way to look at it.

    Though I don't subscribe to a purist photographic philosophy and often think people express an unfortunate cult-like attitude in favor of it, a more genuine straight photography orientation is very human. It expresses the desire to keep oneself out of something and let it unfold and be seen without intervention. It can be as human as the human desire for voyeurism or the human desire for journalism or reportage.

    And, while I'm also open to various kinds of photographic manipulation for a variety of reasons, much manipulation I see is very, and sometimes too, machine driven. The computer (software) can do it so let's do it. Many manipulation decisions I see are made in a machine-like way, simply imitating the extremes of what's been seen before.

    Good straight photography has a human touch, in that it comes across as empathetic in a very human way to what the event being straightly photographed was and often has the feel of something unique rather than programmed.
  8. Its actually not a moot point. Hypothetically speaking, even if machines can emulate human consciousness one day, they will still retain all the advantages of a machine, i.e. lack of tiredness, more physical power, speed of analysis, weather resistance. All these included, machines possessing human consciousness will conveniently outrank humans.
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Eloi & Morlocks? Dystopia yet again -- Mr. Musk has some strong views on the subject.
  10. Thanks Patrick, for your thoughtful comment. I don't think photography is a random process either. However, in the experiment Steve described, where he suggested giving cameras to blind people and chimpanzees, it essentially becomes a random process. Yes, we do operate at times via well defined cognitive and perceptual rules, but we also break those rules from time to time to hit new grounds --- IMO, its what differentiates us from an AI robot at it's current state.

    It is indeed the hard question, the holy grail of AI research. Perhaps we underwent some form of singularity in our evolutionary history that made us human and allowed us to dominate over all other life forms. If our machines undergo similar singularity, may be it will be our turn this time to be dominated :confused:.
  11. Fred, thanks for the thought. I also don't believe, intent is necessary to create art. Expression is the word I would use instead, and the expression can be a form of seeing and reflecting, rather than creating anything physical. I share your view on this.

    After reading your comment, I have come to realize that the expression may not be just the artist's, it can be of any viewer or artist who sees and appreciates. Thats something I would change in my original comment.

    Consider Steve's suggested experiment. Giving cameras to blind people or chimpanzees, randomly printing a few images and displaying in the museum, none of these actions involve seeing, so no art. Now if visitors are invited to view the images, and they connect to one or more of the photos, thats when art is born in my opinion. Displaying the images in the museum is an automated process, and so is AI driven photography, but I feel somewhere there is a difference between the two. The AI driven photos would follow rules, whereas Steve's experiment will produce photos that have no rules (except if auto focus/exposure are used). Thats why some photos from Steve's experiment might surprise (or even impress) us, whereas the AI photos are likely to be too predictable, like the photos in a landscape calendar.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    sjmurray likes this.
  12. I think someone with blindness and a camera can be a photographic artist and make art. I've actually read about such a person and was quite impressed. I'm on the road right now and can't look it up but you might be able to google. A person with blindness and a camera can use their other senses to guide them in making pictures and I don't see why seeing would be necessary to producing art with a camera. As to process, Jackson Pollock radically altered process and the results were art. I don't think the process you suggest means the result isn't art, just as it would be with any traditional process. It might actually be more significant art with the change in process, depending on the results. I think it's fine for art to result from a random process.
  13. Thanks Fred for the information about the blind photographers and their works. Its an eye opening experience. Here is one link I found:
    The work of blind photographers – in pictures

    I agree now, it is possible to create photographic art without seeing, although I used 'seeing' in a more figurative way with feeling and perceiving (expression) in mind. Steve's experiment referred to blindness in the context of not sensing though, which is different from what these photographers are doing, using their other senses to create the images.

    I agree that art can result from a random process, but would you say that the results need to be curated or seen by someone who connects with them, to call them art? Thats why in my previous comment, I suggested that art is born when the photos (created by seemingly random process) are viewed and appreciated.

    When I first read Steve's comment, I didn't think the results were art, because he did not mention selecting or inviting viewers (although displaying in a museum should imply so). I was only thinking about the random process, not the viewing part at the end. After reading your further comments and thinking through, I would say, the random process can definitely produce art, but a conscious selection (not compulsory) or viewing at the end is still involved in my opinion.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  14. Supriyo, I thought you were drawing a distinction between this sort of blind, random art and more traditional art, like a Monet painting. That's one question and I answered that I think blind, random art can be art just as sure as Monet's paintings can be art.

    I see it as a separate question, relative to ANY kind of art, AI or random or traditional, whether art needs an audience. To me, that's a much more theoretical question and almost at the level of "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it does it make a noise?" Obviously, that's not a precise analogy. But, NO, I don't think art only becomes art when viewed by an audience. Art is art when it's alone in the studio siting there on the easel. How can I be sure the painting is on the easel if I or someone else is not there looking at it? The same way a child slowly goes from being a baby to being a little more mature and comes to know that when she closes her eyes the world doesn't really stop existing.

    Though I'm a big fan of the shared aspects of art, I don't think art has to be shared to be art. Many artists will never get to show their work to others but are making art alone in their studios. But, regardless of how we answer this more theoretical question about whether a viewer is needed for art, I don't see why that would relate more to blind, random, AI art than to any other art.
  15. To add, something is only going to be called art by a person who can name and classify things. So, obviously a person will be needed to call anything art. But I guess your point is that AI doesn't have senses and doesn't feel, like an artist alone in a studio does. So, the AI would need the viewer to supply the sensing and feeling. But, I think one has to shift paradigms some and recognize that we're simply dealing with different input qualities with AI art. I mean,sure, we could arbitrarily limit things and say art is something that only humans can produce. But I think that's restrictive in today's world. While AI might not feel, emote, or express in the same way as humans do or even at all, there will be comparable components in AI to all those things. We could arbitrarily restrict intelligence only to humans, thereby disallowing the term "Artificial Intelligence" altogether. But that ship has already sailed. By the same reasoning that we call what programmed machines do a kind of intelligence, we can call what those same programmed machines can do a kind of art. I was thinking we'd call it artificial art but that would be redundant and, on some level, because of the added degree of artificiality, art produced by AI may actually be even MORE artlike because of its extra layer of artificiality!
  16. Fred, let me clarify. By viewing, I also include the artist. An emotional connection with a human being, be it the artist, or a viewer, that's what I think is involved in making art. I make many photos that I alone view. I think others also do the same. I think those photos can also be considered art.

    In case of random or AI produced images, there is no concept of an artist behind those images, so I think, the connection with the viewer becomes more important. Otherwise, if no one ever sees these images, I can't think of a way to call them art (unless I am missing something). It actually seems to be closer to the analogy with the tree falling in the forest.
  17. Right, but the analogy with the tree falling in the forest is meant to show the silliness of it, because there is no good answer to the tree falling question because it's a badly framed question, a kind of trick question if you will. So, I think, is the question of AI needing an artist in order to be called art until a human comes along to see it. Well, that's the only way it's going to get called art, by a human coming along, so of course a human will be involved in the calling of it as art. As I said in my second post, though, the important thing is the artificial part. You're suggesting that, until a human is involved, it can't be called art. So, the same goes for "artificial intelligence." It's only that when a human comes along to call it that. Before that, it's a machine doing something. Then a human gives it a name. But we seem willing to accept the name "Intelligence" for something done by machines. And those machines are programmed by . . . HUMANS. So why not accept "art" for what the machines can do, even before the humans come along to view it?

    Again, when you say "if no one ever sees these images, (because there was no artist involved) I don't see how we can call them art" makes about as much sense to me as saying, "If no one ever sees those trees, (because there was no human involved) I don't see how we can call them trees?" It's kind of a mixed up ontology/epistemology, IMO.

    In artificial intelligence, machine is substituting for man. So, to, in art produced by machine. I think you're without meaning to, pulling a fast one. You're saying art needs to be created by a sensing, feeling being in order to be called before someone sees it. But that's just another way of saying art needs to be created by a human being in order to be called art before a human being sees it. This is a classic example of begging the question. You're not actually giving a REASON why machine art shouldn't be considered art. You're just supplying another way of saying "only humans can produce art" by saying only sensing, feeling beings can create art. But the question you need to answer is WHY only sensing, feeling beings can create art (that's art before a human sees it)?

    If a machine created it, and I view it as art, I don't hear any rationale given for why I can't say that yesterday, before anyone stumbled on it, it was art. Because I think if it's art today, now that I'm viewing it, it was art yesterday, the day before I viewed it.

    Was the urinal art only when Duchamp placed it in the museum or did his placing it in the museum simply alert us to the fact that it was art? I'd say the latter. Same with machine-made art. It's art as soon as it's made. And then, at some point, I become aware of it. I don't think Duchamp was telling us that only urinals an artist puts in a museum are art. I think he's telling us all urinals are. Whether they were or not the day before we realized all this would probably get a quizzical laugh out of Duchamp.

  18. Sorry, I missed your last comment before responding. Your idea is noteworthy, to bring AI created images in the purview of art, because such art very well can have special qualities due to the layer of artificiality. I am not against AI created art, although I may have given that vibe unintentionally. I just think, the viewer's emotional connection to such art is going to be important, because otherwise it seems like a array of pixels in a sterile world.

    Fred, I am a little curious, what you meant by more art like because of the layer of artificiality?
  19. I am not saying that. Many aesthetically pleasing things can be produced by non-feeling beings or processes, and many of those can be art, if a sensing feeling being establishes an emotional connection with such objects. That's my position. I understand, you don't agree with it. In my view, art exists because we make sense of an otherwise inanimate universe with our own emotions and imaginations. I think, that emotional connection is what imparts the magical quality of art to any artifact, whether natural or human made. Without that, it would just be a scientific phenomenon, same way as a AI produced image would be an array of pixels.

    I can't agree, things become art as soon as they are produced. That way anything and everything that ever existed (even before humans existed) can be called art, because one day, (given the human population integrated over time) someone might find aesthetics hidden in almost anything.

    I think, the urinal became art when Duchamp felt an emotional connection with it. I don't think, by giving the urinal example, Duchamp is saying, all urinals are art, rather all urinals (and by analogy, other unconventional artifacts) have the potential to be art if viewed with an open mind. That's my feeling, I may be wrong.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
  20. A tree remains a tree even if no one sees it, because a tree's physical existence is not dependent on human perception, its dependent on physical laws. I don't think it's a good analogy to the existence of art, which is a product of human perception.

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