The problem for AI is that creative work is not predictable. It is not about statistical likelihood or simply mashing up the familiar—it is about leaps in logic and counterintuitive juxtapositions. It is about the unique experience of the individual, and seeking to do what has never been done before. It is about the least predictable next word or pixel. So the danger is not that AI programs will write the next great novel or create the next great painting, successfully replacing human inventiveness: they never will. The greater danger is that they won’t need to create great writing or art.
Because they cannot truly innovate, everything that predictive language and image models will produce will be a sequel to what came before: not an original idea, but a mash-up of our old tropes, repackaged for our consumption. This was already a dominant tendency in our commercial industries—to simply take what has been done before, tweak it a little, rebrand it, and call it new. As a result, AI will fill the world with grindingly average texts, passable but derivative illustration and video, and unoriginal but functional new product designs.
The real danger to human creativity that these tools represent is the mechanization of human innovation. Relying on these tools will discourage us from looking beyond what has been done before, and further reduce innovation into no more than imitative remixing. [Continue reading…]