AI’s Paint by Numbers

Experts believed “Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy,” the first algorithm-created artwork ever to be auctioned at Christie’s, to fetch between $7,000 and $10,000. But by the time gavel came down Thursday, “Edmond” sold for $432,500, the New York Times reports. How does this compute?

A natural reaction today may be to chalk up the sale of a smudgy-looking portrait as the latest sign that AI, no longer satisfied with taking jobs, is now moving on to creating artwork and general AI is here and don’t forget Skynet, etc.

But leave it to Artnet, an art market website, to provide a clear description of Generative Adversarial Networks, an AI system of algorithms and two neural networks used to generate photorealistic images. It also put artificial intelligence’s potential in context for artists and business practitioners alike. “We would do better to stop asking where the boundary line lies between human artists’ agency and that of AI toolsets, and instead start asking whether human artists are using AI to plumb greater conceptual and aesthetic depths than researchers or coders,” Artnet writes. In art and in business, everyone would be better served if AI was treated as a tool, with benefits and risks noted.

Credit: “The Morning Download: AI’s Paint by Numbers”, Tom Loftus, 26.10.2018, The Wall Street Journal, via MIT Newsletter.


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