AI’s future in the arts

11 August 2023

Five key takeaways from the July Creative Exchange webinar

As the issue of Artificial Intelligence as a potential disruptor continues to dominate news headlines, our latest Creative Exchange webinar, presented in partnership with ArtsHub and Today, tapped Professor Jon Whittle of the CSIRO to dive into the relationship between AI and creativity.

As the Director of Data61, the digital technologies R&D arm of CSIRO, and someone who has also spent thirty years as a theatre performer, dancer, writer and director, Jon was uniquely placed to offer expert insights.

You can watch the full webinar in the link below – in the meantime, here’s five key takeaways.

AI has been with us since at least the 1950s, and a lot of the early technologies that were developed in the 1950s are in many ways, the same technologies that we use today. And a lot of the fundamental concepts of AI haven't changed much since the 50s either.

Since its inception , AI has gone through peaks, called ‘AI summers’, where everybody got very excited about the potential of AI and there was lots of investment into the technology, and ‘AI winters’ where that hype didn't fully fulfil itself, so investment dried up. Following AI summers in the 70s and 80s, we’re currently in the midst of the third ever AI summer. This started in 2012 when Deep Learning technology was invented.

When it comes to AI-generated art, human skill and creativity is needed for quality results

Creativity in AI has actually been a hot topic of debate ever since early days of AI, and AI has been used to help creatives make art for over 25 years. Over that time it’s become clear that if there’s not a collaborative process with humans, the outputs from AI-created works tend to be mediocre. That’s because generative AI systems don't really have any understanding of what they're doing. They require human creativity, and human input, to help create interesting or exciting content.

Courts and policy makers are currently working on who gets paid, copyright, intellectual property, and industrial relations implications of AI

The current generation of AI has got people asking questions about how do you credit things? Who owns things?  From a technical point of view, it's not as easy just to credit things as you might think, because some AI systems might have trillions of parameters in them and are taking in trillions of data points.

But there's a lot going on right now to address that problem. In terms of who owns it, there are a number of lawsuits that are currently in play, particularly people are saying, ‘if you prompted the AI system to produce a piece of art in the style of X, shouldn't X get remunerated for that?’ There are no laws that cover that right now, but that current crop of lawsuits, and their results, will guide the formation of laws.

There are frameworks in place governing responsible AI use

Australia was one of the first countries to introduce a framework guiding ethical AI use, called Australia's AI Ethics Principles. These were developed by the CSIRO and the Federal Government in 2019. There are eight of them, and they are voluntary principles at the moment, but what they say is that anybody developing or using AI systems should think about these eight things.

  • Will this AI system promote social and human well-being?
  • Will it align with our human centred values?
  • Will it be fair? Will it discriminate against certain people?
  • Will it protect our privacy? And will it be secure against cyber attacks?
  • Will it be reliable?
  • Will it be transparent and explain?

While that’s going on at home –  other countries around the world are introducing similar frameworks - the Australian Government is going through a consultation process right now to try and decide if any of these kinds of things need to be codified in law.

The creative sector doesn’t need to be afraid of the future of AI

For AI, we're already at the point where human collaboration is not needed. A calculator can do arithmetic, much better than humans can, and it doesn't need human collaborations for that.

But even though we’re at that point, and AI is getting better all the time, it's still a long way from being intelligent in the same way that a human being is. In fact, the current generation AI systems that we have don't have the capacity for abstraction and reasoning that a human toddler does. We might get there at some point. But we're quite a long way away from there right now. And that's why, at least for the foreseeable future, the human collaborative element will remain a feature of AI, especially in the creative sector.

To watch Professor Jon Whittle’s hour-long deep dive into, AI and the creative sector, as well as other recent Creative Exchange webinars, visit the Creative Exchange page.