On Artificial Intelligence

So Chat GPT, Crayon.ai have provided a lot of room for running wild on time saving and mental dissociations, indeed I did a couple of tries to see what all the fuzz was about and found it interesting, but at the same time worrisome, and not for the sake of the use of artificial intelligence but for what it meant for art and photography.  

A teacher at my son’s school was checking and had the same challenge, how to know if an student has created his essay or if it has asked AI to do it for him. My reply was short and perhaps not really futuristic, and it is the basis of my post. Perhaps children should do they essays in class, with pen and paper in front of the teacher. Yes it will cost time, yes those fingers that might have get used to typing will get the normal pen callous skin and yes the teacher will have to remember why calligraphy used to be taught (specially for medical schools).

This same instance got me thinking and started to present itself as a problem that needed to be solved, specially after I started seeing “photos” on instagram, like a post made to bring attention and awareness made  by Benoit Paille where he asked AI to generate photos based on “The suburb-hood, a imaginary series where Todd Hido, Alec Soth and perky Terry Richardson go on a ride….” . I can smell the AI eeriness of those but will I be able to perceive it if the results were more like thispersondoesnotexist.com? 

Indeed we can ask Instagram or other platforms to identify and tag these photos as AI generated, but then what would happen with any photoshop introduced by other photographers, what will happen to craft and what will happen to being a photographer? Will I believe that street scene posted? Will I like to embrace that new wave of upcoming artists “using” AI? So what is art then, only the idea typed at request of the human? or the result created by the AI? where is craft left and where is that boundary of a true photograph with mixed media art? Yes this questions were already there since the beginning of time with photography artiness vs reflection of reality mumbo jumbo. Yes a camera is a machine just like a computer. Yes photographers were creating new realities with photoshop. But there was a non spoken boundary, that defined a photo, and that was the image being captured and not being generated. 

So, “preparation, incubation, inspiration, and elaboration” are the stages of Art as expressed by Graham Wallas. In AI this will mean just Inspiration from the artist. Leaving all other three items out. In photography, you could even say that incubation might be less present than in other art forms although I like to disagree specially when creating series or books. However all the elements are there. So what I am trying to say is that the result could be inspiring or jaw dropping but the actual artist was the artificial intelligence and the human served only as the inspiration, likewise in art, God or the divine take the human role of my last sentence as inspiratory whisperer, and the human interpreting it by preparing, incubating and elaborating it, wil be the artist. So for me AI generated art is indeed art but the artist should not be recognised as human, but as Crayon.ai or something else. Those generated images could be used but should be restricted by property rights that allow AI to profit and not some human. Now, I am not saying that AI could not provide a starting point as  photography or video is a starting point for a more elaborate art pieces. What I am trying to point out is that if the results are not produced by a human, the craft recognition should be given to AI. 

This poses my next point for photography, and that is how to ensure that the craft is indeed human based and not machine based? This for me is simple, and it has to do with my initial reply to my son’s teacher, pen and paper. This translates in photography to analogue methods, or at least if we are talking of digital to “proven” provenance photos. The latter is a little bit difficult with digital. But imagine the extra “value” that you could give to a photo printed, where your provenance can be proven with a negative, where the craft can also be enhanced by your darkroom technique. I am not suggesting that we should go back to a romantic photo age, I am just babbling on how I think it could go from here. I have my analogue cameras, I keep my digital at all times with me for my family pictures, but I have been taking more and more analogue pictures out of this sense of worry but also trying to leave out of the picture (pun not intended) the fact that I don’t need art to be instantly rewarding, I don’t need another dopamine hit with something that for me should be kept sacred, as we commune with the Gods and serve to their whispering inspiration.

A List from my notes, Lessons I’ve learned

I am following another course, besides the one on Kabbalah , besides the one on Getting into my Creative Flow and The Habit of Ferocity, besides trying to apply Creative Calling book learnings from Chase Jarvis, besides Jazz drumming, besides Maller technique, besides Posing techniques for commercial photography, besides besides my Praxis Academy subscription,  besides me being a little bit tired of looking for excuses on keeping myself busy but not photographing instead of checking more courses and feeling myself ready enough. Yes another online course….

In the course, Overcoming Self Sabotage, I am asked for lessons learned, eight that I have had, and suddenly I remembered that in my Evernote notebooks I had exactly something that I have been collecting throughout the years, but that I have not kept up to date. A list of the things I have learned, hard or easy way….and I thought….” why not” let’s share it.

So if it resonates to anyone just let me know, perhaps you can send me yours

I have learned that

  • …a title doesn’t give you status, does not guarantee a job and does not give you self-security
  • …smiling opens all doors
  • …you can hurt someone really easily if you are only focusing on your own pleasure/needs
  • …you should not expect things in return and you should not do things expecting to get them in return
  • …there are people who have a tough live everyday 
  • …everybody deserves being treated like equal
  • …my insecurities don’t disappear by having more, knowing more, but by being a better person
  • …I have to treat everybody as if I wanted something from them without really asking anything from them
  • …stereotyping gives you no room to learn interesting people and or things
  • …there is always time to do the right thing
  • …doing something a little bit per day is better than not doing it at all
  • …you can try to change some people, but you don’t have to change them, it is also their responsibility to change and mine to learn to accept them if they don’t want to change
  • …everything is God’s will
  • …insecurity is believing everything bad your brain tells about you, while leaving out the good things that you and others know about yourself
  • …how you feel determines how you look (happy, secure, insecure, etc) and how you look both internally and externally makes and influence in how you feel
  • …I am the master of my mind, not the otherway around
  • …I can create many scenarios to keep my self busy with increadible dangers but that takes my energy and my focus from the things that are really valuable
  • …things are just that things, you can take care of them, but you should always take more care of people and living things
  • …opportunity is actually work, never quit your job until you have another job
  • …real sexiness is to be intelligent, be thoughtful and and be generous
  • …you have to Make your life, don’t just live life!
  • ….you have to trust yourself, you already know many things but keep always your ears, eyes and heart open to learn more
  • …you don’t need to be likeable, just Be, smile and enjoy yourself. 
  • … if you respect yourself, others will follow through, but don’t take yourself too seriously
  • … even guys who don’t look that fit can be really good fighters

On time passing by

During this quarantine I have had more time to spend with my family, that is really nice now with my small children. I can sense even better their wondering, their surprises and joys when seeing something new. Also getting pleasure out of something simple like a plane, a crane or an insect. How rules don’t apply for how close the sky is, if you can grasp the clouds, or why you should not place your feet on the table. How everything but falling is a source of joy. 

This of course has made me think of my own childhood, my memories on being a child, but most of all, my own mortality. 

Some of my memories have the vivid memory of remembering the action of wanting to remember it (take that Shakespeare!), like being in the car of my grandmother, driving in the morning in Bogota and not wanting to forget it. Or waiting for the school bus at a stop on street 76 at 6 am while listening to the blackbirds, wanting not to forget it.

And that wanting to remember, is the bit that has been puzzling me, why all of the sudden I get it. That message of “this is important, pay attention” coming from within my heart, soul or who knows where, perhaps, and most probably not even from inside of me. 

This brings me to a promise that I did to myself of never stop hearing that voice when a picture asks me to take it, and let’s say I have kept my promise 80% of the time. However, when looking through my “archive”, I started noticing how those memories that I wanted to remember are not there, only the photos that asked me to be taken. As if there were two categories or as if I could not do both at the same time, use my memory of it and the medium of the camera for it.

We are all going to die, and without being dramatic or days are counted, some have less some have more. I still think of the hours that remained after saying goodbye to my father here at the airport, and how the vivid memory of wanting to remember his embrace, grasps me still, down to my core. I did not know it back then, but I also took a last portrait of him, although photographing him was for me really difficult. The picture remains, but the feeling that I have from his last embrace is something that I wish I could be able to communicate.

Will my pictures reignite memories in my children? Will they be deleted, I don’t care much as long as they make them happy at least once, once more.

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