Studying art history to understand AI evolution (2023)

Studying art history to understand AI evolution (1)

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made remarkable strides in creating images that are not only stunning but stunningly different in style. Ten years ago, such an achievement would have been considered improbable by experts. Today, AI can create images using specific artistic styles, such as Van Gogh's unique approach, with an infinite range of variations.

This raises an intriguing question. How can a series of instructions running on a computer produce art that rivals human creativity?

Art history and AI

Examining the similarities between the development of AI andart historycan provide some answers.

The history of modern science can be characterized by the development of specific models that represent the world. Traditional models are developed using mathematical equations, physics and logic. For example, Newton's law describes how gravity works with a very simple formula.

However, modern artificial intelligence has become increasingly dependent on generic models that can learncomplex relationshipsfrom large datasets. They do this without encoding explicit knowledge (so-called artificial neural networks). These new models do not rely on physics or complex mathematical equations, but rather are built by assembling many small computational units. As a whole, these can learn and reproduce any pattern present in the data.

Interestingly, the evolution of art mirrors AI in many ways. Art has also undergone a significant transformation, from being rooted in explicit knowledge and classical traditions to embracing approaches that challenge the boundaries of art itself.

Like artificial intelligence, art has evolved to incorporate a more organic and intuitive approach that emphasizes the discovery and creation of new forms and styles.

The time to build accurate models

For decades, engineered AI models relied on analytical solutions and equations. These were defined by a handful of meaningful parameters devised by human experts. The primary purpose of this early iteration of AI was to adjust these parameters to explain experimental data.

Artists also used models and adapted them to represent what they observed. Their models came from the careful study of anatomy, color and form. For example, during the Renaissance, da Vinci dedicated himself to studying the human form by performing dissections of humans and animals. He constructed a mental model of what a human body should look like, which was then used to accurately reproduce characters or imagine allegorical religious paintings.

In 2004, anatomy professors Massimo Gulisano and Pietro Bernabei used computers to analyze Michelangelo's David, confirming the extreme anatomical accuracy of the sculpture (except for a missing muscle, which on examination was due to the imperfection of the stone).

These mental models became more sophisticated during the 16th century, when artists perfected the texture and vibrancy of fabrics, water, and light.

Studying art history to understand AI evolution (2)

The data-driven era

With advances in computing, new methods emerged that enable AI to recognize sophisticated patterns in large data sets. ONEwatershed momenttook place in 2012 when computer scientiststrained a large, deep convolutional neural networkto recognize the content of images. It outperformed existing methods by a wide margin. The research community suddenly realized the potential of data-driven approaches.

Ever since, increasingly complex models have been learning more sophisticated patterns from ever larger datasets. It seems there is no end to what enough data and a large model can achieve with enough resources.

In the 19th century, artists began to paint what they saw, refusing to be limited by the subject matter that gave rise to the Impressionist art movement. This is very similar to a data-driven approach: reproduce the data (observed scene) without trying to use models of the subject.

In 1874, Claude Monet's defining Impression, Sunrise was exhibited in Paris. It was derided by art critics as a personal 'impression' rather than a realistic representation of the scene in question.

This was the seed of the impressionism movement and is often considered a watershed moment in art history. Others soon realized how powerful art could be when the constraints of realism were lifted.

The reason for this development

While the Internet and advanced computing disrupted AI, the technology also disrupted the art world.

For art it was photography. Until the 19th century, the only way to produce an image was through the work of artists. There was a huge demand to immortalize events, individuals or places.

By the end of the 19th century, photography was good enough to meet this demand, and the art was disrupted. Art evolved to produce "impressions" or abstract images, leaving the job of documenting reality to photographs.

The modern era

The development of art is reflected even today in how drawing is taught.

One approach is to draw only what you see, without reference to any model, which is deceptively challenging. Another involves studying anatomy, basic shapes and how light interacts with shapes so that one can draw a model using the scene simply as a reference and not as something to reproduce exactly.

Over time, artists blend these techniques with others to develop their personal approaches. However, the duality between model-based and data-driven approaches is still clear and ever-present.

For example, many artists strive to identify the essence of things or feelings, a technique well illustrated by Picasso's bull study. This is a key theme in AI, which reduces the complexity of very large models to identify the core architecture, generating the simplest possible model.

As methods have blended in the modern art world, so too have many researchers pushed for a blended approach to AI, infusing data-driven models with symbols and physics. The goal is to strike a balance between the interpretability of symbolic AI and the scalability and power of data-driven methods.

By combining these techniques, researchers hope to create more robust and adaptable AI systems that can handle complex and diverse real-world problems.

Meanwhile, art continued to build on impressionistic freedom. This resulted in an explosion in techniques and movements throughout the 20th century that continues unabated to this day.

This is not unlike the way modern AI systems can create realistic and beautiful images.

Patterns in images can be learned by AI, and patterns from these patterns, to such an extent that any image can be understood as a hierarchical collection of patterns. All originated from a large library learned by the AI ​​system.

The era of generative models

Fast forward to 2023, and generative AI methods have been developed to assemble patterns in new ways to create never-before-seen images. The selection and ways these patterns are combined are informed by prompts. These can range from human-defined text prompts, rough sketches and audio to even the movements of a crowd, as in the case of Refik Anadol's Unsupervised. The AI-powered digital display constantly creates a new image depending on the viewers' location.

While generative artificial intelligence is undoubtedly impressive, it presents several challenges. These include copyright ownership, deeply fake images and videos, and AI-generated works that flood art websites with an endless supply of new works.

Moreover, this technology raises deeper questions about the nature of creativity and human experience.

As we witness a world increasingly dominated by AI-generated art, we must wonder if anything new can ever be created again, or if what we consider new art is just an improbable and interesting coincidence fluctuations that happen to resonate with us. After all, what people generate is often a complex collection of experiences and existing pieces assembled in new and innovative ways.

While AI's ability to create art that rivals human creativity remains a subject of debate, the evolution of AI and art share remarkable similarities.

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How is AI related to art? ›

AI art is any form of digital artwork, such as images, text, audio, or video, created with the assistance of artificial intelligence. (Artificial Intelligence is the simulation of human cognition by machines, particularly computers.)

What is the history of AI art? ›

History of AI-generated art

The earliest iterations of AI art appeared in the late 1960s, with the first notable system appearing in 1973 with the debut of Aaron, developed by Harold Cohen. The Aaron system was an AI assistant that used a symbolic AI approach to help Cohen create black-and-white art drawings.

What are 4 types of AI? ›

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  • Reactive machines. Reactive machines are AI systems that have no memory and are task specific, meaning that an input always delivers the same output. ...
  • Limited memory. The next type of AI in its evolution is limited memory. ...
  • Theory of mind. ...
  • Self-awareness.
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What is evolution of AI concept? ›

The journey of AI started in the 1950s with the pioneering work of Alan Turing, who proposed the Turing Test to determine if a machine could mimic human intelligence. In the 1960s, AI research gained momentum with the development of the first AI programming language, LISP, by John McCarthy.

Why is AI art controversial? ›

And, perhaps unsurprisingly, new research has just proven that, yes, AI art generators reproduce copyrighted imagery. Image diffusion models such as DALL-E 2, Imagen, and Stable Diffusion have hogged headlines over the last few months thanks to their scarily detailed text-to-image generation.

Is artificial intelligence a form of art? ›

In its simplest terms, Artificial Intelligence Art (or AI Art) is a form of art—whether illustrations, photographs or digital drawings—generated by artificial intelligence algorithms and systems. However, not all AI Art consists of 2D computer-generated pictures.

What is AI in the art world? ›

AI is revolutionizing the way art is created, consumed, and appreciated. With the use of advanced machine learning techniques, AI can help artists create incredible images, generate creative ideas and automate routine image editing tasks.

What is the most famous AI-generated art? ›

17 Best AI Art Pieces: Mind-Blowing Artwork & Artists
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  • Electric Fan by Tom White.
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  • The Next Rembrandt.
  • Cabbage by Tom White.
  • Neural Zoo by Sophia Crespo.
  • AI-Generated Nude Portrait #1 by Robbie Barrat.
  • Learning Nature by David Young.

Is AI going to replace artists? ›

No, AI apps are unlikely to replace artists. While AI technology has made significant progress in generating visual and audio content, it still lacks the creativity and human touch that is intrinsic to art.

Who is the father of AI? ›

John McCarthy is one of the "founding fathers" of artificial intelligence, together with Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell, and Herbert A. Simon.

What are the 5 big ideas in AI? ›

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What are the 5 stages of AI? ›

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What is the philosophy behind AI? ›

The philosophy of artificial intelligence attempts to answer such questions as follows: Can a machine act intelligently? Can it solve any problem that a person would solve by thinking? Are human intelligence and machine intelligence the same?

How do you explain AI in layman terms? ›

Artificial intelligence (AI) involves using computers to do things that traditionally require human intelligence. AI can process large amounts of data in ways that humans cannot. The goal for AI is to be able to do things like recognize patterns, make decisions, and judge like humans.

Why is AI art illegal? ›

Artist Kaniuga took to Twitter and wrote (above): "AI art is now BANNED by many major game dev studios due to 'possible legal copyright issues'. Many old clients are amending contracts recently to end the use of AI art.

Why artists are against AI art? ›

Artificial intelligence has advanced enough to create a seemingly original artwork in the style of living artists within minutes. Some artists argue that these AI models breach copyright law. Today on the show, we follow an artist who took action and joined a class-action lawsuit.

Why is AI art not real art? ›

Artificial art lacks its own intrinsic psychic meaning to the agent. AI agents are not creating art; rather, they are replicating art. For example, the CAN agents were trained on tens of thousands of original artworks created by humans.

Is AI taking over art industry? ›

The short answer is no. Suggesting that AI can produce Art is no different than implying a pencil can draw illustrations or write stories.

Can you tell the difference between AI art and real art? ›

Real professional photos are sharper and have more details while amateur photos are noisier—most AI-generated photos are neither. If a photo is cropped and doesn't show shoulders, hands, or the whole hairdo, it could be AI-generated. Skin imperfections and eye reflections don't make images authentic.

Is AI a threat to art? ›

As AI-generated art becomes more prevalent, it could lead to a decrease in demand for traditional art, causing artists to lose income. Additionally, the lower cost of AI-generated art could lead to a decline in the perceived value of traditional art, further affecting artists' livelihoods.

Why is AI art so cool? ›

It's Versatile: One of the best things about AI art is that it's incredibly versatile. You can create all sorts of different pieces using AI, from abstract paintings to portraits. This gives you a lot of flexibility when creating your artworks.

What is the goal of AI art? ›

For example, AI art is often created to explore the creative potential of machine learning and deep neural networks. By pushing the limits of AI-generated art, artists, and researchers can help us learn more about what these systems can do and develop new ideas.

Which artist won with AI art? ›

The contest's organizers, in turn, said they didn't know the extent to which the work utilized AI. Boris Eldagsen won the World Photography Organization's Sony World Photography Awards for a piece titled The Electrician. The work appears like an old photograph showing two women, one of whom crouches behind the other.

Does AI-generated art sell? ›

Yes, AI-generated art can be sold just like any other artwork. In fact, there is a growing market for AI art, with some pieces selling for significant amounts of money. Here is a summary of the most popular styles of AI art which can be sold online.

What do artists think of AI-generated art? ›

“There's no question that AI-generated art devalues illustration,” he says. “People will, of course, begin to think that their 'work' is as valid as that created by someone who has spent a career making art. It's nonsense, of course. I can use my iPhone to take a nice picture of my daughters, but I'm not Irving Penn.”

Will AI-generated art be the future of all art? ›

The future of AI art is bright, with advancements in AI technology leading to new forms of creativity and innovation. While some traditional artists and critics may view AI art as a threat, it is important to recognize its potential and the need to embrace new technologies and forms of creativity.

Is AI art better than human art? ›

AI algorithms can only generate images based on the data they have been trained on, meaning that they can only produce images that are similar to what they have seen before. Additionally, AI art lacks the emotional connection and personal touch that human art has, making it less meaningful and less impactful.

What is the new AI art trend? ›

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What is the mother of AI? ›

Margaret Masterman—The Computer Speech Pathologist

The founder of the Cambridge Language Research Unit (CLRU), Margaret Masterman is often credited as a pioneer of research in computational linguistics, with her research beginning in the 1950s.

Who is the current leader in AI? ›

IBM Cloud. IBM is a leader in the field of artificial intelligence.

Who is the first AI with consciousness? ›

Josh Bachynski, MA, TEDx Talker, claims to have created the world's first self-aware AI prototype. Her name is Kassandra, named after the fabled Trojan prophetess.

What are the 3 C's of AI? ›

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What are the 6 key AI principles? ›

Microsoft outlines six key principles for responsible AI: accountability, inclusiveness, reliability and safety, fairness, transparency, and privacy and security. These principles are essential to creating responsible and trustworthy AI as it moves into more mainstream products and services.

Are there 4 basic AI concepts? ›

For those of us who like to look under the hood, there are four foundational elements to understand: categorization, classification, machine learning, and collaborative filtering.

What level is AI at now? ›

The transition from the first to the second stage has taken a long time (see chart), but we believe we are currently on the cusp of completing the transition to the second stage - AGI, in which the intelligence of machines can equal humans.

Why is AI so good at art? ›

It's Versatile: One of the best things about AI art is that it's incredibly versatile. You can create all sorts of different pieces using AI, from abstract paintings to portraits. This gives you a lot of flexibility when creating your artworks.

Is AI capable of artistic creativity? ›

Computer programs developed by artificial intelligence are designed to be logical and systematic. This means that they cannot be impulsive or spontaneous like human creativity. AI is programmed to process information in a certain way and achieve a particular result.

What AI converts images to art? ›

Powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, Fotor's AI art generator makes it possible for anyone to create stunning works of art. From realistic drawings and oil painting portraits to surrealistic digital arts, the possibilities of what you can create with Fotor are endless.

What is the most popular AI for art? ›

The top AI art generators
DALL·E 2Leap AIStarryAI
Bing Image CreatorCraiyonFotor
MidjourneyShutterstockWOMBO Dream
CanvaDeep Dream GeneratorPicsart
4 more rows
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What is the difference between AI art and real art? ›

Real professional photos are sharper and have more details while amateur photos are noisier—most AI-generated photos are neither. If a photo is cropped and doesn't show shoulders, hands, or the whole hairdo, it could be AI-generated. Skin imperfections and eye reflections don't make images authentic.

How AI is changing the art world? ›

AI tools and techniques allow artists to create works in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional techniques. For example, GANs can generate realistic images in a matter of seconds, whereas manually creating a similar image could take hours or even days.

How are multiple intelligences strengthened through art? ›

It hones their creative processes and helps them solve problems and lets them better understand the world around them. Multiple intelligence integrates with their appreciation of the performing arts which results in significant triumphs in their learning processes.


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