I visited the site Neural Love ( to find out about AI-generated art. I told it to create an image, photo-style, of a hard-boiled detective walking in the rain. Here’s what I got:

The suspended, no-hands umbrella is pretty cool, don’t you think? And the guy looks more like a banker than a shamus.

Then I asked it to make a painting with the prompt alcoholic novelist slumped over his typewriter. Here’s what I got:

I love the fur! And I suppose a drunk would use his typewriter backwards.

Anyway that took about five minutes.

In computer science class in college I learned about GIGO which stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. We were taught that computers were dumb machines that needed to be told what to do. The instructions had to not only be clear and specific but also syntactically correct. Anything else was just GIGO.

I’m sure that a careful, hard-working person could use Neural Love to create something that looked good and more importantly looked real. That is, the final product would be close enough to human-made art that the audience could not tell the difference. And that’s the big thing with so-called Artificial Intelligence or AI. It’s a big game of fakery. We don’t care if a machine has actual intelligence, we only care that the machine seems intelligent. If that machine can fool people into believing it has intelligence then AI has succeeded.

In today’s big data world you can’t do science without computers. Machine learning is an essential component of almost all contemporary scientific research. These big, complex programs are “trained” by their human users. The stuff they feed the computer determines the stuff the computer will spit out. If you train the system on crappy data then it probably won’t help you solve your problems.

We live in a sea of pop culture. We are drowning in content. Almost all the stuff we know as “art” (TV shows, movies, books, songs, etc.) is controlled by a handful of media conglomerates. Multi-billion dollar trans-national corporations like Disney and Apple and Universal are our artistic gatekeepers. They decide what is worthy. If they take a turd and give it enough hype we will eventually be convinced it is not a turd but a work of art.

Artists of all stripes (musicians, actors, writers, etc.) are chronically under-employed. They can’t find enough work to make a living. A tiny percentage of creators produce the majority of what we consume. The individual artist is at the mercy of that great fiction, the marketplace, which is just a cute name for billionaires’ playground.

Ultimately AI will create most of our popular art. Pop songs will be the easiest to fake. An AI has, potentially, the entire corpus of human musical output to play with. An AI never gets tired (these systems, by the way, are enormous energy hogs) and thus can crank out thousands of new combinations which will be called “songs” and we, the audience, won’t be able to tell them from songs written by actual songwriters. We’ve already seen the proliferation of digital art that computers generate. Right now, like the above images, it is easy to spot. But soon it won’t be. And even experts in the visual arts will be fooled. Again, that’s the goal of AI: fake it ’til you make it.

I welcome our machine overlords. I hope they bury us in crap. I think it might just be the thing we need to open our eyes to real art made by real people. If we assume that everything is noise, then we might get better at tuning in the signal.

Perhaps that’s a silly notion. Maybe AI will just make everything worse. In the meantime, go out and find some real artists and support what they do.

2 thoughts on “AI and GIGO

  1. I like it!

    How about one of the perturbed Oakland A’s manager pondering his future after a 8 and 28 start?


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