· 472 words · 3 minute read

Video did not kill the radio star (AI will not replace all human artists)

There’s a lot of talk about AI’s impact on artists. Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, Dall-E, ChatGPT, they are already taking over and this is just the beginning.

I don’t think so. An AI can make beautiful images, but these images do not have the same worth (in the eye of humans) as does real art.

I can frame a print of the Mona Lisa and hang it in my living room. It will look amazing. It will brighten up the room. It’s beautiful. But it is not the real thing. And that is not important, unless it is.

We humans are weird creatures. We can have an exact replica of the Mona Lisa in our living room, but still look forward to our planned holiday where we visit the original. Why? Because it ‘has’ something. There is value in the ‘real’, ‘original’, ‘someone sweated over this’. We experience it somehow.

I have a Spotify subscription, but I also support a band on Patreon. Why? Financially it makes no sense: I can already listen to their music for free. So I pay double. Even worse, I bought their music on Bandcamp (and am supporting other artists that way too). So I pay triple. Am I just burning money? No. I support the humans making this work. And I will keep doing this in the future, even when an AI can replicate the music I like (or even adapt it to my emotional state, or other fancy stuff).

Music, paintings, and writing are a medium to communicate between humans, and there’s no point in listening to a machine emulating this communication.

Video did not kill the radio star #

When MTV launched, its first video was of the song “Video killed the radio star”. The expectation was that radio would quickly be redundant, now that television was in every living room.

How did that go?

MTV is gone and the radio is still here.

The movies did not kill theatre. Photography did not kill the portrait painters. CDs did not kill concerts. Etc.

Yes, some illustrators and photographers will be redundant with AI. Before photography, there were ‘field sketchers’. People who drew important scenes for print. Those got laid off with cheaper photography1. The same goes for stock-illustrators photographers and -photographers now with AI. But they were already being replaced with Unsplash and cheap-subscription services (or not so cheap, ahem, Adobe).

And what about all the creative stuff that’s “not art”, like marketing or web-design? My prediction is it’ll get augmented by AI: the boring stuff is automated and there is more time for the fun ‘communicating between humans’ parts.

There are interesting times ahead with AI. I look forward to enjoying it.

  1. The actual history is much more interesting. It involves a lot of manual skills, different printing techniques, etc. Another rabbithole to dive into. ↩︎