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An artist-in-residence in the field of AI

An artist-in-residence in the field of AI

At the reception for OpenAI's first developer conference in San Francisco last month, the crowd gathered with drinks in hand and a critique of art created by artificial intelligence projected on a blue wall at the front of the room. One critic quipped, “I have seen more charming art than a bad printer.” “The fine art equivalent of elevator music,” shouted another. “Ineffective, unmemorable and extremely dull.”

It might seem an odd strategy for OpenAI, the company behind widely used generative AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E, to promote disdain for AI art, until you look at the twist. Don't get caught: The AI ​​has written the criticism itself. alexander rebenThe MIT-educated artist behind the presentation combined his own custom code with GPT-4, a version of the larger language model that powers the ChatGPT online chatbot.

Next month, Mr. Raben, 38, will become OpenAI's first artist-in-residence. Generic AI steps in as artists and writers are trying to understand the possibilities and changing implications as they advance rapidly. Some people consider artificial intelligence a powerful and innovative tool that can take them in weird and wonderful directions. Others express outrage that AI is working its way into training systems from the Internet without permission, compensation, or credit.

In late November, a group of visual artists filed an amended copyright lawsuit Stability AI sued after a federal judge dismissed parts of the original complaint against MidJourney and other makers of AI tools, which accused the companies of misusing artists' creations to train generative AI systems. Mr. Raben said he couldn't speak to the specifics of AI and the law, “but like any new creative technology, the law needs to capture the unpredictable future.”

(The New York Times sued OpenAI and Microsoft for copyright infringement on Wednesday.)

Tech companies are also involved Google, Autodesk and Microsoft have welcomed artists in residence. And for the past several years, artists have tested products like GPT and the DALL-E Image Generator, providing information about the tools' creative potential before public release. But the OpenAI residency, which is giving Mr. Raben a front-row view of the company's work, is a first for the start-up that is at the center of the debate over art and AI.

“Alex is one of the first people we share our new models with,” said Natalie Summers, an OpenAI spokeswoman.

Sam Altman, chief executive of OpenAI, has long acknowledged that the technologies his company creates will change the nature of art. But he insists that no matter how good the technology gets, the artist – the human artist – will always matter.

“There was a real moment of fear where people asked, 'Is this a device we've created or a creature we've created?'” he said last month in front of more than 300 artists and art lovers at an abandoned site. Said during the appearance. Warehouse in Downtown Oakland, California. “People now look at these things as a new set of tools.”

Digital artist Android Jones at the event said that while many artists are still angry about the rise of AI image generators and the way it has diminished the value of their own art, Mr. Altman said that people have always been influenced by things created by other people. Will look for the lost art.

“There's clearly going to be more competition,” he said. “But, immersed in a sea of ​​AI-generated art, the desire for human connection will go up, not down.”

ge wangAssociate director of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence and associate professor of music and computer science in the school's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, wonders how to consider tough questions about the impact of AI on the arts. How receptive will OpenAI be? , What's the right balance between machine output and human curation? Will the immediate results produced by people like DALL-E discourage people from developing the types of skills that require study and time?

“It's kind of bad for business to ask these questions, and OpenAI is a business,” Dr. Wang said. “You may have a wonderful artist in residence asking questions. Are you interested in receiving them?”

Still, Dr. Wang — who is also a musician and designed two music-making apps, Ocarina and Magic Piano, for Apple's iPhone — said he was glad Mr. Raben was talking about the impact of AI on the arts community. I was ready to answer questions. ,

Mr. Raben said that as a technologist who has studied the impact of innovations such as photography and recorded music on creativity, “I generally stay on the cautiously optimistic side.”

“But like any other technology of the past, there are both sides to the coin,” he said.

The New York native moved to Berkeley, California, a decade ago to become director of technology and research Stochastic LabsAn incubator for creative scientists and engineers housed in a three-story 19th-century Victorian. Mr. Raben's highly conceptual art lines the walls of the main hallway and fills workspaces filled with printers, headphones, cables, capacitors, soldering supplies and other bits and bobs.

On a rainy Thursday, Mr. Raben relaxed on a couch at Stochastic after a meeting at OpenAI to continue detailing what he would do during the residency, which will last three months.

“If I come out of this and make my art better, or come up with some new questions or new directions to present to the world, that would be very valuable,” said Mr. Reben, who researches human-machine symbiosis. Graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, an interdisciplinary research center.

The residency overlaps with Mr. Raben's first major retrospective, Titled “AI Am I?” and will be on display at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento until April. DALL-E and other image generators like mid journey And Stable AI's Stable Diffusion has captivated the Internet by allowing anyone to instantly receive custom visual imagery just by typing a few words into a box. But while most AI-generated art exists in the form of pixels, Mr. Raben often manifests physical structures from ideas with the help of artificial intelligence.

Mr. Raben said, “I like a lot of absurdity and humor in my work, even if the basic question is a serious one.”

One sculpture in the exhibition presents six toilet riders lined up like a bizarre police lineup. AI-generated text on a wall placard explains that the work represents all that remains of the Plungers, an unconventional art group from the 70s. Its fake artists adhere to “Plungism”, a utopian philosophy “in which an artist's mind is in a state of flow and is capable of being influenced by all things, even plungers.”

Plungism arose from Mr. Reben's extensive back-and-forth with the GPT-3: he would enter a prompt (an input intended to produce a desired response), and then tinker with his preferred responses, sometimes editing them. They fed the language back into the AI ​​until it landed on exactly the right words.

Then there's “Dreams of the Cheese-Faced Gentleman”, which depicts a man whose face could be mistaken for a wheel of Swiss cheese. Mr. Raben worked with GPT-4 to find the right signals to produce a compelling description of a painting, then fed the curated text into an image generator. He's not a painter himself, so he hired one to create the artwork.

A large language model capable of accommodating both images and text studied the painting and described it in language that would fit in any museum. The wall label reads, “The combination of psychedelic surrealism and whimsy gives the painting an air of playfulness, challenging the viewer to engage with the work's complex layers of meaning.”

Genesee LaGrue, the AI-assumed name for a real-life painter producing oil on canvas, explained: “I use cheese because it's the perfect symbol of the American dream. Cheese is a commodity, not a food. It is completely artificial and tastes delicious too.”

The exhibit provokes more questions than answers, a reflection of Mr. Raben's belief that as machines produce better output, humans need to ask better questions about bias and ownership, among other things.

“Given how new this creative tool is, there is still a lot that needs to be solved, and tackling these problems falls on the shoulders of everyone involved, from its developers to its users,” Mr. Raben said. . “The more people thinking about these questions the better.”

As the first artist of OpenAI, Mr. Raben does not claim to speak for all artists. But he understands their concerns. Artists and writers worry that AI could take away their jobs, but Stanford's Dr. Wang said the panic outweighs the possibility of losing livelihoods.

He said, “The fear is that not only will we be replaced as artists, but also that we will be replaced by something much more generic, much less interesting.” “Maybe generic is enough to make a lot of money.”

cade metz Contributed to the reporting.

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2023/12/20/multimedia/00openai-artist-qgft/00openai-artist-qgft-facebookJumbo.jpg

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