Artificial Intelligence: The New Artists?

We are already seeing the automation of our world, with machines replacing human laborers in a number or professions and undoubtedly more in the future. But can they replace humans in every role? Perhaps so.

You likely associate the machine takeover more with manual labor, however Rutgers University  and Facebook’s A.I. lab have applied artificial intelligence in an unexpected way. A new breakthrough has allowed them to design an A.I. of not only producing art, but that can actually conceive of new aesthetics independently. The styles themselves are akin to abstract expressionism and impressionism and are truly unique.

Marian Mazzone, one of the researchers who worked on the system, stated that the idea was to make art that was “novel, but not too novel”. The project has been so successful the art is already being acclaimed by critics — of the human variety to be clear.

The system is designed with two neural nets that play off each other. One produces the art, the other is programmed to “judge” what is art and is not. The discriminator is programmed with 81,500 examples of human-produced paintings specified as either art or not art. The discriminator can even categorize the art into known styles.

The true beauty however comes from a twist in the programming that directs the producer to generate art that does not match any of the known styles. Team member Ahmed Elgammal explains, “You want to have something really creative and striking — but at the same time not go too far and make something that isn’t aesthetically pleasing”.

The art was presented to critics alongside human produced artwork without revealing its origin. Much to the surprise and delight of researchers, the A.I. produced artwork actually scored slightly higher than its homo sapien produced competition. Although this proves the artists skills sets can certainly be reproduced by machines, they cannot infuse the meaning and emotion human artists put into their art, for now at least.