Automating Creativity

Artists, the computers are coming for you!

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a concern for a lot of people over the years. Will the day come when computers are so smart that the average worker will no longer be required? It's a legitimate concern in some industries, but few people in the art world ever imagined AI would be a threat to their line of work.

A recent announcement from Microsoft indicates that this may no longer be the case. Sarah Dawood of Design Week writes about Microsoft's new Drawing Bot and its ability to create images based on the directions it is given. Not only can the Drawing Bot create an image, it can also fill in missing details using its own "imagination." While the bot's output is still rudimentary, its ability to learn and improve may give some artists reason to worry.

Supporting Web Links
Discussion Questions/Activities
  1.  Before reading or discussing this article, consider asking the class what they think artificial intelligence is all about and how it is being used. Did anyone mention the use of AI in creative fields? Are students surprised to hear that the Drawing Bot is capable of creating art based on the input provided? Why or why not?
  2. Divide the class into small groups and ask each group to explore one or more AI examples. The CaptionBot and Seeing AI are included in the Supporting Web Links section, but students should be encouraged to seek out other examples. Each group should prepare a presentation to explain the example(s) they researched - what is the AI's purpose, how advanced is the AI, is it still in exploratory stages or is it available for use, etc.?
  3. As an individual project, ask students to view one or more of the movies listed in the slideshow in the Supporting Web Links section. Students should critique the movie and its portrayal of AI. How realistic is it? Does it represent the current state of AI? Does the use of AI in the film seem to have potential or is it purely fantasy? Students should write a brief report and support their conclusions.

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