The latest computer-generated imagery has made it easier for artists to recede from the tedious, manual labor of drawing and coloring by hand. Instead, it allows a digital program to take over the tasks.
So what exactly is AI? Artificial intelligence is the science of making a machine act like it has a brain. It’s been around since at least 1950, when American mathematician John McCarthy coined the term while discussing ways to make machines that could play chess.
But as computers have advanced, AI has become more familiar to consumers. Smartphones can recognize faces and scan documents, while search engines have become more like people in their ability to understand the context.
The pace of the advances in AI is not only breathtaking, but the technology is currently shifting from its earliest use in games and consumer products to our daily lives. In fact, according to an IDC study, AI was one of the top drivers behind the fourth industrial revolution.
While it’s likely that AI will continue to change the way we work and live, it might be a surprise for many to learn that AI has already determined changes in art. It’s also possible that artists could use AI as part of their creative process even if they don’t directly incorporate artificial intelligence into their work.
So how has AI influenced the world of art?
AI can create drawings that look like the work of an actual artist thanks to software developed by Google DeepMind, which Google acquired in 2014. It used a dataset of 15,000 human Go game moves for its tests to train its AI to understand how different shapes are arranged on the Go board. By learning these rules and principles, it could reproduce the moves made by people during games and make new moves using those patterns.
Training AI to create art is not a new concept. Researchers have been trying to figure out ways to teach computers to draw when they discovered they could get a computer to produce recognizable images of humans by first teaching how human figures are composed of lines, curves, and points. The results were usually crude drawings that required further editing.
Proving a point, Google researchers said they used their DeepMind Lab computer to create an image of a robotic head. And in November, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute at the University of Alberta showed off its “RoboPainter,” which uses AI to draw a human face from pixels.
AI also has allowed for works on paper to be scanned and transformed into 3D images rather than having to reproduce every detail in ink. As a result, work can be completed much quicker and efficiently.
But the use of AI to alter the visual arts goes beyond creating art and turning it into 3D images. The technology is also being used to detect, edit and improve images that human hands have altered.
Several companies are working on programs to spot altered photos by examining pixel changes, distortions, and color shifts in the original image. Those products help agencies, insurers, and governments analyze images that have been manipulated, faked, or otherwise doctored.
While photographers are most likely familiar with this process, it’s also used by graphic designers, illustrators, and web developers who have to ensure the visuals they produce are consistent with client requirements. This is also a way to see what has been altered, even if alterations were made after a document had already been created. AI tools can spot these inconsistencies by comparing two images of the same image at different resolutions or rotations, for example.
The future looks bright with AI influencing art. Now, artists looking to break into the 3D printing world can use AI to create a digital file of their work which could be used to create a physical object.
From a purely artistic point of view, it’s possible that AI could influence art in other ways because of its ability to replicate human thinking patterns.