Can the outputs of AI systems qualify as artworks?
Anna Linne (2021-12)

II. Judging AI Art

Kant classifies aesthetic objects into the agreeable, the beautiful, and the good according to their different relations to the subject's feelings of pleasure and displeasure. In terms of these different relations, the agreeable gratifies us, the beautiful what we just like, and the good we esteem or endorse. Agreeableness does not require rationality, only sensory satisfaction; beauty requires both sensory satisfaction and rationality; the good requires rationality alone. (Kant, 1790) Firstly, of the three types of art, an AI system can be most easily modeled to produce artworks agreeable to our senses. In other words, once we can identify images or other forms of art that are agreeable to our senses, something similar produced by AI has a high probability of being agreeable as well. In addition, AI artworks can be generated to be agreeable to an environment where harmony with existing art or objects is desired. Secondly, under Kant's classification, it is more unpredictable for AI systems to generate something beautiful. The greatest art is formally expressive on the one hand and conveys concepts on the other. While AI art can be modeled to create various novel combinations, generating beautiful art that combines expressive forms and great concepts is more difficult. To achieve beautiful art in this sense, human artists with taste will need to curate AI system outputs by identifying aesthetic ideas based on the presentations. Finally, under the current technology, there is a low likelihood for AI systems to generate something good in terms of concepts that we esteem and endorse as Kant means. As AI systems lack rationality and concept comprehension, it is not likely to create an AI model to generate art that is “good.”

Aesthetic judgments are judgments of taste. A judgment of taste is subjective and individual. Because of its subjectivity, a declaration of an aesthetic object from a judgment of taste is conditional. The declaration calls on others to agree and permits other opinions. (Kant, 1790) An agreement on a judgment of taste is based on common sense and common understanding. Art reflects the culture and has an important function in human socialization. Producing and appreciating art afford, for most, ways of being a part of society. Through being the topic of culture, the currently avant-garde AI art will become more and more accepted. Some future standards for appreciation of AI art will be achieved through common sense and common understanding.

AI systems work within the parameters set by designers of the systems. The “creativity” in AI systems lies in their limitless possibilities of expanding into empty mathematical spaces on a map where training images occupy latent spaces. A latent space is a mathematical representation that maps what a neural network has learned from a training image. As training images are represented as latent spaces on a map, unoccupied spaces are where novel images can be generated. As mathematical space can have multiple dimensions and be extended infinitely, the unoccupied spaces for creating novel images for AI artworks are endless. The unoccupied spaces with various combinations of dimensions represent AI art's potential creativity. One could say that once AI designers set up the dimensions in the mathematical space and provide the training dataset to take up latent spaces in the mathematical space, all empty spaces, i.e., all potential new images, are anticipated. In other words, the AI systems simply render images that the designers anticipate. The anticipated images will change when the designers adjust the dimensions or provide different training images. In this sense, the designers of the AI systems are the ones who exercise creativity on the images.

The geniuses among human artists for traditional arts set rules to be followed by others. Such rules need not connect to any existing rules in any way. AI art's capacity to make unexpected combinations is a kind of genius, especially when such unexpected combinations would not otherwise be achieved under human tendencies. For example, suppose that cubism artists would never import impressionism into their style because the two styles simply do not fit under human rationality or human tendency. AI systems have so such prohibitions and can produce these kinds of combinations. Human artists will accept some AI combinations, and a new trend can be set, both in AI art and traditional art.

License: Creative Commons License, Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY-4.0)

SiSU Spine (object numbering & object search) 2022