The Great Flood of Generative AI art is coming. Artists are starting even now to get drowned by generative AI art in Social Media. How should we react? How do we move forward?

The Landscape

In 2023, Generative AI took its first public steps. The world was not braced to take advantage of its powers. As we get into 2024, we’ve done the run-up, now we’re ready to jump.

The performance of LLMs at the moment, especially at the GPT3.5 level and below, hinges on the efficacy of fine-tuning. The knowledge and tools for setting up datasets, loading and fine-tuning models were still crude. Now we are seeing many of these tools getting polished and making it much easier and intuitive.

This is how even small content creators can now create tailored messages that are less and less likely to be recognized as AI. And, to an extent, it is an expression of the content creators’ artistic impulse. The content creators have some of the strings of the AI puppet, and so can make it dance to their tune.

Billions of people, groups and corporations have the ability to create generative propaganda and try to get your attention on the attention machines we built last decade. This is the Great Flood.

Artists and Society

Beyond social media, we artists use our skills to survive in society. It is thanks to everyone participating in financial trade with us that we can keep the art coming. But with the Great Flood, artists are being edged out, faster for some than others.

Artists are losing their bread and butter. The flywheel that keeps art coming is being overtaken by bots. And the art they produce, is sanding the edges of our society. Generative AI, by its very design, is made to eliminate statistical outliers. When this applies to humans and human expression, it seems to go against the whole point of art. Our AIs are generating mild, inoffensive Newspeak. Art deserves better.

What does an artist provide to society? More than mere entertainment, artists allow us to confront each other, to self-reflect on how we think, and why we think how we think.

The Ark

So what is an Ark for this Great Flood? We react to it, we fight against the Society of the Spectacle as best we can. We have the ability to point to things, and that is a mighty power. We can use these tools to rethink ourselves, to reinvent ourselves as the masters of our destiny. Building small communities, perhaps in the Fediverse, where flooding can be identified and booted could be a great start (Unfortunately, we seem to be retreating to the private web instead).

I was watching the trailer for Pass Thru and it occurred to me that this could be an example of post-AI art. The pastiche of the visuals perhaps shows us a way out. In a world where, more and more, any artist can produce whatever visual artifact they can think of, the decision of which image capturing device is being simulated becomes important. A homemade animation in 8-bit vs a multi-million dollar superhero movie say very different things artistically, now that it no longer says “I have more money than you do”.

What artistic movements will spring in reaction to the Great Flood? I can see thousands of possibilities. We must venture into the Deep and bring back new treasures.

Okay, so art itself has a way out, but what about artists? How do we ensure that we put them back in a machine that keeps generating human-centric art?

This is what art in 2024 will be about, and I’m excited to discuss it with everyone on the Weird Web. Let’s brace for the Great, Deep Flood.