Amateurs + AI

The night was cut short when I woke up after three and a half hours of sleep. I read for a while, wrote down a few ideas for Rain Music, and had coffee early, at 0440. At 0700 I left the house to walk.

The act of making music, clothes, art, or even food has a very different, and possibly more beneficial effect on us than simply consuming those things. And yet for a very long time, the attitude of the state toward teaching and funding the arts has been in direct opposition to fostering creativity among the general population. It can often seem that those in power don’t want us to enjoy making things for ourselves -they’d prefer to establish a cultural hierarchy that devalues our amateur efforts and encourages consumption rather than creation. This might sound like I believe there is some vast conspiracy at work, which I don’t, but the situation we find ourselves in is effectively the same as if there were one. The way we are taught about music, and the way it’s socially and economically positioned, affect whether it’s integrated (or not) into our lives, and even what kind of music might come into existence in the future. Capitalism tends toward the creation of passive consumers, and in many was this tendency is counterproductive.

So wrote David Byrne in his book How Music Works.

An Amateur, from the Latin word Amator meaning Lover, is someone who loves to do something that they don’t get paid for. I am an amateur bread baker. Making my own bread for about ten years has given me a greater appreciation for a very well crafted bread from a professional bakery. A professional loaf. Making bread once a week allows me to understand the craft and intelligence that goes into making bread every day. I can marvel at a soft crumb and crunchy crust made with locally sourced flour. I am no longer a passive bread consumer. I am a enthusiastic amateur.

In my mind the above David Byrne quote connects to a podcast I listened to this morning.

But Tchaikovsky’s latest book, “Children of Memory,” ostensibly about crows, read as something very different to me: the best fictional representation I’ve read of what it is like to interact with, and perhaps even be, an artificial intelligence system like ChatGPT.
The Ezra Klein Show: Is A.I. Actually Creative? Are We? on Apple Podcasts


🐈‍💨 is my new emoji proposal for ChatGPT, based on the (already widely mentioned) French pronunciation “chat: j’ai pété” = “cat: I farted”.

It seems to me that a capitalist society doesn’t want to raise smart people, it wants to raise consumers. In a few years AI may well create all of the art, music, and books the consumer could want, and nobody will have to pay royalties to the pesky artists. The biggest galleries/record-companies/publishers will have their own AI and the smaller ones will rent time on available AIs. They will be able to produce unbelievable amounts of content… Perhaps the movie Matrix was right… only, instead of human batteries creating energy for the AI there will be human consumers of AI created content. In the podcast Adrian Tchaikovsky mentions a cartoon of two panels. The first panel shows how humans envisioned the future: a human sits and paints while a robot works. The second panel shows reality: the robot gets to paint and the human works.

I have been thinking about the discussion of personhood for AI. How typically self-centered for our species that a number of humans are already discussing personhood for AI, when systems like ChatGPT were designed to appear as human as possible, while not recognizing alien (to us) intelligences like octopuses or forests.


‘This Painting Could Be the Future’: Artist Jonathan Harris on Why His Viral Image ‘Critical Race Theory’ Struck a Chord Around the Globe

Powerful, beautiful painting. The future is here, it’s just not what we imagined.


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep. ― Scott Adams

Yellow Pants

Painting by Lisi-Tana in my office.

from the post Backstage in Saratoga – 02020-02-06:

Yellow | Ottmar Liebert (02020-02-04):

We live in turbulent times and I was tempted to record an album of sad, sad music and wear only black clothes. But I remembered a study that found that most people WILL feel happier after they smile. So I made an album that’s upbeat and which makes me smile every time I listen to it. And so I am wearing color, like these yellow pants, because they make me smile. And because most people wear dark colors in turbulent times these pants were on sale for only $25. So I got my smile for cheap.

Know the Difference

Sant Santana
I came across this image that was sent to me four years ago. I don’t know who drew this. I do know that it would make a fine seasonal postcard.

Art In The Age Of Optimization

Art In The Age Of Optimization – by Dan Sheehan:

In fact, fans love to tout AI art’s accessibility, saying that now anyone can be an artist. Unsurprisingly, this claim seems more focused on art as a product than it is on art as a practice. And that love of accessibility does not seem to extend to social services, public spaces, or anything beyond the automation of skill based professions.


So the company line becomes, “we want art to be for everyone,” while the obvious goal remains the same as every other big tech attempt at optimization: to make money. No one truly believes that the goal here is to make art better or more accessible, right? Are people actually looking at this stuff and feeling like they’re at the dawn of a new age rather than the beginning of the end? The ideal outcome for these companies is to provide a service that makes it so that when some tech guy needs an image of an astronaut looking at the moon to promote his new NFT, he doesn’t have to talk to (or more importantly: pay) anyone to get it. Like the vast majority of silicon valley’s latest contributions to the world, the only thing this seeks to actually optimize is exploitation. So why does everyone seem so excited about it?

I added the emphasis.

Please read the entire post. I think it is brilliant.