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Pepijn Stoop | Made in Silicon Valley

Pepijn Stoop ,
26 april 2023 - 11:46

Will robots soon be better artists than humans? No, because AI is not creative and therefore cannot replace us, is the common argument. Columnist Pepijn Stoop questions this. “I am not claiming that research is plagiarism light, but we have not proven that AI will never be able to create.”

What do a single by Drake, an article for Nurse Education in Practice magazine, and an award-winning vintage photo have in common? They were partly generated by AI and no one noticed: not hip-hop fans, peer reviewers, or art experts. Each time, the creator thought it was an interesting experiment, the connoisseurs felt hoodwinked, and the world wondered if robots just can’t craft better than we can.


But I found the response to whether robots are better artists than humans intriguing. Namely, that AI is not creative and therefore cannot replace us. That response, in my opinion, denies that AI is improving itself and becoming more and more influential on humans.


Since creating generative AI is freely available, judging homework increasingly feels like an episode of Tussen Kunst en Kitsch (TV show - Between Art and Kitsch ed.): Is it original or is it from Silicon Valley?


Determining whether something is fully created by a human is not always easy. If I have to review 28 assignments within two days, a student who submitted an OpenAI Rembrandt might slip through. The peer reviewers who had to check the aforementioned article in minimal time also failed. It indicates that we are not the only ones capable of writing papers and making assignments. And that’s not a bad thing: Nature research found that researchers use generative AI to improve sentences for their papers. So AI helps create. So what does it matter that it’s not creative?

Grading homework feels like an episode of Between Art and Kitsch: Is it original or is it from Silicon Valley?

But okay, suppose we prefer to work without AI. Then there is another problem. After all, creativity has no single definition. According to Van Dale, it means “creative ability.” But when do I “create” something? When I write essays, I never “really” say anything new. I read other essays and papers and use them to determine my content, but that content is far from unique. Researchers do basic research, but is it always creative? They also build on something. I am not claiming that research is plagiarism light, but we have not proven that AI will never be able to create. Maybe neural networks can’t, but then again we’ll find another model. And how can we forever deny AI creativity if we don’t even know what it is ourselves?


Meanwhile, this argument distracts from the real problem of generative AI: exploitation. To write this column, like ChatGPT, I looked at sources. The difference is that I paid for these sources: the papers and columns were behind a paywall. AI creates artworks based on data (images and text) from artworks tagged by Chinese students for a pittance and the artists do not get a penny for that use.


If we accept that AI exists and that we are not necessarily any better, but that it is something achieved jointly, then we can do something about this. And in doing so, all the people who make that creative process possible should be paid, creative or not.


Pepijn Stoop is an artificial intelligence student.