Professor Stephen Hawking said AI intelligence is the most dangerous thing threatening humanity right now. As we have just witnessed the world's first self conscious example of AI in a small simplified experiment, I feel like with that one sentence uttered by that machine we have just made the leap into the next epoch of technology and possibly a whole new age for man. We have entered the beginning of the second industrial revolution where technology will advance so fast and where the borders of science and imagination will become completely fused.
Expert Nick Bostrom said "robots and machines will overtake humans in terms of intelligence within the next century." Humans will become as redundant as the workhorse in many institutions and the roles we actually perform in society will dissolve away as more and more robots take our place doing it faster with more efficiency.
With all these predictions of our future and our future synthetic residents, it's hard to imagine what roles robots won't be able to perform and out task us on. As an artist and a painter I've wondered and imagined if my role in society could ever be replaced or pushed aside? Could a robot really truly ever take my place and become an artist?... I think AI will be capable of many amazing things but I never think a machine will truly ever make great art.
As human beings the one thing that we can rejoice in and take pride in is that no other machine or algorithm in the world would ever understand that it's our very flaws in being human that make us so special and individual. We are not perfect, but it's these very imperfections that give us our characteristics and our uniqueness.
Frank Aurebach famously said "being too good is almost like a curse" and "why would you ever want to create something that is predictable?" Can a machine truly ever understand this? The greatest art ever made for me has always been born out of suffering, repression, sex and death. Our desire to understand ourselves as humans and what it means to be human have been the catalyst for great artists through antiquity. As artists it's our failings that are celebrated that make the most engaging and intriguing pieces of art. They offer up the most important questions about the human race and what we are about. Otherwise all other art is decoration and propaganda.
The repercussions of our habitual addictions for example offer up the best way of making my point. Take the controversial Tracey Emin's bed that currently resides in London's Tate Britain, guarded and watched over by two Francis Bacons. I'm not going to argue whether you think it's art or not but it's an intended self portrait and that can't be denied.
In case you're not aware of the art piece it's an unmade bed. A sculpture of despair and depravity. Bottles of vodka, cigarette butts and used condoms are strewn around the bed like a crime scene. Only the traces of addiction and soiled sheets give away what the artist might have felt. There is nothing celebrated here but anguish and turmoil. A bleak vision of something devoid which is grating to the viewer as it's emotionally paraded.
As much as I wanted to hate this piece when I visited it I did actually like it as it questioned my parameters of what exactly a self portrait could be. It's very easy to give Emin's bed a cheap Daily Mail jab and as much as I feel uncomfortable with liking it I do think it's a unique idea that illustrates my example very well.
This is a piece of art that would never be conceived and understood by AI. Would an AI think to become an addict?... Drink itself to death to the near point of malfunctioning, rendering itself useless within our society? What would be its intention and how would it serve a community?... The same could be asked about ourselves and of course Tracey Emin.
The difference is we have reasoning and reflection. Our irrational behavior is a blessing. The very point of being human is to make mistakes and to do the best we can. If we were to get everything right the first time I don't think we would learn any lessons at all. The greatest art in the world is a reflection on that.