Economics Week 35 Art and Computers

Prompt: “My Career Plan to Avoid Being Replaced by a Computer.”

My career will probably be a number of things: animation, writing, theater, art, song writing and agriculture to name a few. A beautiful thing about art and storytelling is the human perspective that wields it. Living through a human life, with all the bumps, bruises and beauties that go along with it create unique perspectives and ideas. Emotions and experience fuel the fire of art, and although art is subjective the soul that goes into it is as individual as our fingerprints. Computers can calculate visually pleasing designs, they can even match together melodies and make beautiful pieces of music. Lets even consider future AI, hypothetically programmed to understand human emotion. But the AI, unless it mimics a human life from birth to death, doesn’t and cannot understand how it feels to live.

A computer has never watched the sun setting into the sea, sparkling pieces of light dancing on the waves as a scarlet glow engulfs the horizon. Salty air caressing ones cheek, seagulls singing and sand filtering up between toes. A computer has never experienced the feeling of rain falling onto ones face, thunder startling you from a daze of warm memories. Its dark, blue, and wet outside, but gold spills out from an open window and invites you into your home. A computer has never watched their child take their first steps, and felt a beautiful bittersweet swell of joy and pride as they realize their baby is starting to grow up. A computer has never known pain, a computer has never known love. A computer has never had to live with the reality of death, knowing that their life is finite and learning to be okay with that. A computer has never dreamed.

In my mind those examples, and many many more moments of sensation, emotion, and adoration for existence are what separate us from computers. Our brains are technically very similar to computers, but instead of being sculpted by man they’ve been sculpted by nature. By evolution. By humans living and dying for thousands of years, and experiencing everything that comes with life over and over again. Even in one lifetime we live and die countless times over, only in a less physical way. The child I was ten years ago has passed on, passed on into the adult I am today. The adult I am now will also pass on, in ten years this current moment will be nothing but a memory. Even day to day, I am not the same person I was yesterday. For sleep is the death of the day, and awakening is the rebirth of tomorrow. But a computer has never died, for when we turn a computer off and turn it back on its the same as it was. Unless its reprogrammed, it never grows. A computer never has to figure out their own identity, because a human already programmed the computer with everything it is. A computer never has to think about who they are.

Art is the expression of who we are, what we are feeling, a moment of life encapsulated in a painting or song. Storytelling is the ancient art of creating a moment of life in words, painting a journey we can only see within our minds. Unless its animated, then we can see it with our eyes. But the thoughts and emotions animation can give us linger long after the silver screen goes blank. Even in a future where AI understands emotions, its only because it mimics humans. Its a shadow of humanity, a cartoon painted by a person. If these shadows are programmed with the beautiful, existential understanding of what it is to live and have the desire to express themselves through art that could be something wonderfully unique. But it wont cancel out the expression of humans. Art is not a competition.

Economics is a competition though, and art is sold. But even so, the journey we take as humans equips us with not only unique perspectives, but empathy and understanding of other human perspectives. I’d be fascinated to hear a computers storytelling, but I’d be able to relate to a humans storytelling. I’d be able to feel the emotion of a persons journey on a much more personal level. I believe the commercial value of art will mirror this. But I also believe in art for arts sake. Trying to make art while sitting in the box of “how much will this sell for” is very limiting and can cancel out a creative process all together.

In conclusion humans are extremely emotionally developed when compared to computers, and have immense nuance and individuality when compared to machines. This allows our art and storytelling to be as unique and personal as our imaginations. We can also relate to each others emotions and journeys, we want to feel and understand each other. So because humans are the main consumers of art I believe humans will continue being the main creators of art. Until computers are filling the theaters longing to cry while watching Titanic, feeling proud of a fictional boy as they watch Finn mature over the course of Adventure Time, or feeling a rush of confidence and self respect as they jam out to Lizzo, art will continue primarily being made by humans, for humans.

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