Machine learning creates professional level photographs

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

  1. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Sing the body electric...
  2. A machine making art wouldn't mean humans couldn't continue making art and continue fulfilling our need as well. Your making art doesn't take away from my making art. Why would a machine's doing so affect me negatively? Are humans that insecure and fragile?
    Alan, this is what we're discussing, whether a machine without feelings and heart can make art. It's not reasonable to answer by defining art as something that needs human feeling and heart. That eliminates machines by definition, not by rational argument. If you want to eliminate machines from making art, just declare that art can only be made by humans. But you will not have made any kind of case for it? The question is not simply whether human heart and feeling is necessary to make art. It's WHY human heart and feeling should be necessary, especially if a machine can come up with something that inspires us and that, without knowing it was made by a machine, we might well think of as art. You haven't answered that.

    Plato thought REPRESENTATION was necessary to make art. He was proved wrong by abstract artists. If asked by an abstract artist why abstraction couldn't be art, I don't think it would be much of an argument for Plato to have said, "because art has to be representative." And, even if Plato would have answered with such a rhetorical and logically fallacious answer, the abstract artists would (and did) simply move on, leaving him behind, and continue to evolve art, which is one of the few constants of art . . . that it evolves.
  3. I met a guy in Europe once who spent his canada council grant for the arts painting pictures of dog turds. People didn't bag poop in this city and the sidewalks were minefields. Anyway -- they were the most exquisite paintings! I think these engineers who decided to mine google earth instead of sidewalks for pictures just completely missed a glorious opportunity. Oh, a landscape. How ... artistic.
  4. Now if I wanted to do the same thing where I live I'd have to make all sorts arrangements because here is a nice Canadian city with laws against leaving dog poop on the sidewalk. I'd have to physically move turds from location A where they're allowed to location B where they are not allowed. But I can do that, and all sorts of other things to reduce the entropy of my surroundings in order to create impossible novel arrangements, because that's the fundamental, energetic definition of being alive. Machines, OTOH, are inert, and it's hard to be an artist if you're dead.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  5. There is no reason in fact why this could not happen. The probable next question then would be: would we still see it as art once we'd find out it's machine created? My guess: most people not, the reasoning that art is "by definition" human created is quite persistant. It's tricky, because somewhere down the rabbithole of this question, it boils down to definition - drawing borders (however vague) about what is in and what is out. I guess one can only be open-minded about it and avoid too strict and precise definitions, and accept a complete answer will never be found.

    Suppose a machine created a work that wows us all - next, can that machine create a body of work that wows us too? I'd say yes, but I think the big caveat is that the likelihood of this body of work to be very consistent is high. The probability that the machine-artist can re-invent itself, radically change style or try something completely new: low, unless there is human intervention to change the rules by which the machine plays. To me, this is a bigger divide between artists and machines (and frankly most people and plenty photographers act perfectly like machines). Still, doesn't mean a machine could not create art or become a credible artist, but I do doubt it will get there on its own, without a human programmer helping it.
  6. Dog poop, seriously, ya got nothin' better than dog poop? The urinal was done a century ago. Duchamp beat you to it. I know, I know, not quite poop, but the general disruptive idea was there. When gay marriage was close to being legalized, some seriously worried that it would lead to the practice of bestiality and to people demanding to marry their dogs. Now, machine art is leading a probably otherwise rational guy to visions of dog poop being moved around the sidewalk. Oh my, oh my, oh my . . .
    Norman 202 likes this.
  7. Wouter, as you suggest, many accepted artists don't reinvent themselves, so if a machine didn't it wouldn't be so unusual.

    You're being more open to possibilities, but many here seem to be determining what's art based on what's already been done and considered art. That's actually the antithesis of art. Art will come to be found where you least expect it, not when you demand it comes from where it always has, in order to make you feel comfortable and like you know already what's "in and out," as you aptly put it. The discomfort with unknown territory being expressed by others in this thread confirms to me there's likely a future in machine art.
  8. Precisely. And the rule has been that art is only something made by a human though, of course, it hasn't actually been.

    "Artists break the rules" is almost as tired a cliche as "you gotta think outside the box" and is just another line to fool people into thinking they've figured out what is needed or essential for art or artists to exist. Once that's figured out and the person who's uttered it can relax by the pool with their feet up, their ray bans by their side, and a pina colada in hand, secure in the knowledge they've mastered the secret to and limits of art, something will come along to unsettle their settled thinking on the subject, or not, in which case they'll be left behind pining away for the good ol' days when art was really art.
  9. A friend and I acquired automatic exposure cameras in the '70s, and when auto focus cameras came along, we extrapolated and joked about cameras eventually having auto composition - you'd point the camera, and it would tell you to move to the left a bit, or aim higher or lower, or whatever would make a better shot. We thought our imagined auto composition feature was pretty funny.

    Now it seems inevitable. And it's exciting to think that such cameras will not be simply programmed to make photos similar to those that humans make, but they will be able to learn from experience and develop interesting ways of seeing things. It will be as if humans had been trying to fly by copying flapping, feathered bird wings, and then a machine brain came along and suggested making rigid wings out of riveted sheet metal. It might be challenging at first to accept artificial intelligence as artist, but I think that art will benefit from AI's contributions.
  10. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    God, I hope it's more exciting than that. Fingers crossed, my AI, ahem, "assistant" will be much more than a camera that can learn.
  11. Phil said:
    No one is sure or ever has been sure what a human will add to what's already been done either. And, yet, something seems to come along. No reason both humans and machines can't keep adding. Fear or maligning or dismissing of machines as potential makers of art won't change that. If it takes a human to recognize the art as art, so be it. That'll make at least two things humans are good for: being there to see art as art and being there to hear the sound of a tree falling in the woods. At least we know we'll always provide those two important receptive services to the universe, even if machines surpass us in making calculations and fabricating art.
  12. Phil, it's very easy to turn your question around too: why wouldn't a machine be able to add, what humans haven't managed to add? Why wouldn't a machine be able to be more creative, despite being vastly inferior?
    There is no real evidence either way of the question, and we really don't know the answer today. So why assume one or the other?

    Realistically, though, there are plenty clues, if one looks at what AI and Deep Learning actually are. Frankly, this thread veered off to some Hollywood-SciFi-vision of AI being a self-conscious, self-developing and autonomous things. It is far from that. It's not about recreating humans or human thinking.
    At the core, these machines do what they're told to do. Somebody programs these PCs. That still might permit a machine to create something we could really label "art", but one should still realise that in the background some human programmed it, and whatever came out is a logical conclusion of that. Humans are programmed too, but we do have fare more bugs in our code, and the serendipity of those bugs is where much of the interesting and original thinking happens.

    I've seen an agent punch through a concrete wall; men have emptied entire clips at them and hit nothing but air; yet, their strength, and their speed, are still based in a world that is built on rules. Because of that, they will never be as strong, or as fast, as *you* can be. (from the Matrix)


    I think there are more animals sensing mortality (quite sure Dolphins are aware), and there is nothing stopping anyone to program a PC to monitor itself and start to express regrets (or generate different kind of images) as its hard disk is starting to throw more errors.
    The more I look at nature, the more I feel what makes humans unique, is our sense of feeling unique. But that's probably just a cynic view on mankind ;-)
  13. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    multi-dimensionality. art that looks, sounds and feels beautiful. imagine, for example, a fusion of mozart and henry moore? difficult, not for a machine. a machine that can sense your artistic requirements and full fill them real time. providing u can pay :)
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
  14. As far as I'm concerned, the only real thing is Coke.

    When someone starts to talk of " the real thing" with reference to art, it reminds me of those endless and unenlightening discussions of whether digital photos are real or manipulated photos are real.

    And time to change the channel.
  15. Norman 202

    Norman 202 i am the light

    Go, the board game, was considered art in the past (mebbe it still is) and harder to beat using AI than chess. But AlphaGo beat the 18 time world champion Lee Sedol.

    AlphaGo was not tailored to play against Lee Sedol, which would anyways be hard to do because training AlphaGo requires tens of millions of games, and a few hundred or thousand games from a particular player would not be enough to alter AlphaGo's play. Instead, AlphaGo's training was started with games of strong amateur players from internet Go servers, after which AlphaGo trained by playing against itself; there were no Lee Sedol games in AlphaGo's training data*

    I have no doubt machines will make genuine art. Not all art, sharks in formaldehyde might be a problem. Not only that but machines will help us make art

    * AlphaGo versus Lee Sedol - Wikipedia

  16. Very different? I would say it's the exact same thing, just executed differently. A tool is a utility designed to accomplish a task. Funny enough, computers are exactly that. The only difference is that they have software to execute those tasks so that the operator doesn't need to physically be there to operate. With regards to this discussion, that difference is moot.

    That sure renders the discussion a completely moot point. But it's just an opinion of what art would be, and I for sure am extremely reluctant to accept this definition. It's overly human-centric and reeks heavily of this human idea of being a superior and unique creature.
  17. So is a belt buckle, and machines can make those so I see no reason a machine can't make art.

    "Tied to the human condition"

    What does that mean? And why couldn't a machine make something that's tied to the human condition? Oh wait, a machine already does. It makes belt buckles which are tied to the human condition of wanting to keep our pants from falling down.
    Wouter Willemse likes this.
  18. Won't it be interesting when machines not only produce art, but become art critics as well.
    "That's a very nice rendering, Dave. I think you've improved a great deal." -- HAL 9000
  19. Thanks, Phil. "Must be tied to the human condition." A good exclusionary and old-school-sounding definition of art especially when, with a great flair for question-begging, you pre-define machines as making things incapable of being tied to the human condition.

    What happens when a machine calculates a better way to make a respirator and keep people alive and then calculates something pretty to make as a result of its calculations to keep people alive or it's observations of that process, tied even in content to keeping people alive? Will that be humany conditiony enough to qualify?

    When we start relegating entire general categories of made things to the non-art corner of the universe, we're really treading heavily on possibility, experiment, and the future. Go ahead and do that, though. It will keep you in the good company of those folks who think a manipulated photo is not a "real" photo and Jackson Pollock's paintings aren't "real" paintings because, by their definitions, art must be restricted to "pure" photography and accepted norms of painting. You're just developing a new prejudice, not one against photo manipulation or non-brushstroke painting, but one against machines who, by restrictive definition, can't possibly make art, so art becomes safe from machines by definition.

    The problem is, definition has never been able to supply and never will supply a restriction that can't and won't be violated in the world of art . . . and for good reason.
  20. Phil, if you feel that acknowledgment that a machine might some day create art, is "to sweep all of mankind's contributions in the history of art under the rug", this whole discussion becomes pointless. It completely does not respond to what was said. And humans are still not unique in sensing mortality - that's nothing about a value statement, but rather scientific discoveries (Elephants show clear signs of mourning, for example).

    It's clear enough you're not willing to consider the points raised by others, and stick to your own definitions. Fair enough, we agree to disagree and leave it at that.

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