Things have reached the point where we should probably develop some kind of classification system to describe the amount of cyberneticisation in the things we make.
This was brought to a head for me be the recent explosion in Dall-E art and others, and by a post by Chris McDowall where he shows some A.I. generated art and talks about its possible use in products.
A fair amount of OSR creations have used archive art or altered historical images, and A.I. art feels like it would fit right into that space.
This made it clear to me that this is not a 'thing to think about' but something happening right now. It’s pretty clear that we have already reached the point where human beings are in the act of 'putting ourself out of business'.
This concept of a classification system describing how 'Hand-Made' and how 'System-Generated' something is, is intended partly as a protection for human creators as the power of A.I. s grows and partly to help us manage the conflict and synthesis between the two cultures as they develop.
The moral weight of the difference between the two modes is very great and I imagine will probably intense swings and cultural counter-reactions each against the other. Hopefully, possibly, having a clear idea of what we are talking about will help us at least navigate this process.
There are sound reasons for the use of A.I. content in productions, an A.I.O.S.R.;
- We are all the children of cybernetics. D&D has always been poised between the polarities of a cottage industry and a centralised system. The O.S.R. has a complex relationship with cybernetics already. The movement and products would not be possible without huge web of very cheap communication (effectively free intercontinental video calls) file transfers, international fundraising and production for even small creators.
- Specifically in the artpunk-adjacent world, there is a taste for weird alienating imagery which programmes like Dall-E seem to do well.
- Many, (most), creators are poor. If they can produce beautiful art to go with their stuff easily and for free, do we have a right to stop them?
- Same applies when the textual Dall-E arrives. When a human artist can command a story or situation be generated based on their art.
- Creators are frustrating and expensive to deal with.
The best argument for A.I. production is the most subtle and the hardest to maintain;
- We don't know what might happen. It’s an experiment. The future is not only dark. It provides threats to the nature and expression of humanity, but it does not provide only threats. The experiment should be allowed and in fact will go ahead whether we like it or not so we may as well manage it.
The arguments against A.I. content should be intuitively and immediately obvious to anyone but I will state them explicitly;
- We are engineering ourselves out of the system. producing a culture which has a cornucopia for the things we want, but no place for us.
- Its use will impoverish visual artists. The O.S. has been oddly good at keeping artists fed, for a movement of people with a range of personality disorders.
- It could lead to the destruction of art, art skills and independent vision. (I think this is possible but unlikely as I intuit there will be massive counter-reaction once people fully sense what is going on).
- The destructive power of the counter-reaction. Total eschewal of A.I. development, or a frustrating unenlightening and resource intensive cultural war between the two cultures. I think is actually more likely. I can imagine very easily people screaming at each other and shaming each other over using the "wrong art" and either "betraying humanity" or being "slaves to the past" and its this uncreative trench warfare that I think we have a chance of avoiding by thinking about it ahead of time.
WHAT WOULD SUCH A SYSTEM OF CLASSIFICATION LOOK LIKE?
This is the real tricky part. the current emotional and cultural need is for a symbol and concept which delineates that over here you will find A.I. derived art, but over here you will find human-only art.
Lets try this to start with;
Anarcho-Primitivism. A rare but not impossible situation with *only* direct human action used - a dungeon scribed on handmade paper in handmade ink.
Or more realistically - printed on to handmade or recovered paper with handmade block printing.
(Some of these may seem _unlikely_ but please don't be frustrating in the comments, try to imagine a society a generation or more deep into the situation we see now with Dall-E and its equivalents and then try to imagine the counter-reaction against that, anarcho-primitivist groups are not that strange a possibility.)
"Attempted-Zero", "aimed-zero" or "Zero-minimal" is more likely as in a high tech society making stuff without any tech influence, even in the acquisition of materials, would be very hard.
19th and early 20th century industrial technology, printing presses etc, slide rules and blueprints, but without the internet.
I think this is actually less likely than attempts at Zero productions. People deliberately attempting near medieval construction maybe, but the idea of people deliberately attempting 19th/early 20th century construction seems strange to me, but may not seem so in the future.
Late 20th/early 21stC production methods.
It’s our current world! Hello! Here are used the cybernetic communication and arrangement technology we are currently familiar with - email file transfers, computer programmes etc but with all content generated by human beings, the cybernetics acting as assistants to that.
Then we cross over into deep 21stC methods. Our current moment. Anything Level Three or above will have specifically A.I. generated content - not just AI aid in creation. Art and words which no human hand has touched.
LEVELS ABOVE THREE?
We don't really know and can't predict what might happen there but there is a lot of space to expand into?
We could reverse the order and use the symbol of the hand with the 'level' being the number of fingers held down.
The anarcho-primitivist Class Zero product would have a full, spread hand. (Like the white hand of Saruman).
The industrial but not computer-based Class One production would have the thumb down and four fingers spread.
Our current standard of cybernetic aided Class Three production would have the three central fingers spread.
A.I. generated Class Four production would have the two forefingers.
(Also I realise there are already lots of symbols for 'handmade' but I wish we had some that were less twee)
POSSIBLE FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN THE CULTURES
Its more pleasing and less depressing to imagine a meaningful cultural interchange between cultures Two and Three, artists and. creators moving back and forth, observing each others work etc.
We don't really know how human art will react to the presence of AI art. When photography began to take off, it seems to have had a huge but unpredictable effect, perhaps being a main driver of modernism.
when a human artist grows up in a world of common AI art, what art will they themselves make? We don't know but can expect a re-contextualisation of what art means, why we do it e.t.c.
Since this seems like a relatively sane and good idea I expect that someone else has already had it. I expect you to notify me about that in the comments.
(Along with all your points about how my proposed system lacks discretion and detail. Propose your own systems!)