My personal relationship with AI-generated images

What are some of my personal relationships with AI-generated images (text to image)?

I LOVE IT

I love it. I apparently find it endlessly fascinating to see what comes out of it.

I also love it because it allows me to generate images similar to the ones I wanted to make back when I did art full-time – in my late teens and early twenties. (The sacred portraits – sculptures and paintings – are one example.)

I love it because it allows me to create something that I want to see now.

I love it because it feels like tapping into the collective image production of humanity and seeing what comes out of it. To me, it’s very much a collaborative process between me, Midjourney, the people across cultures and times that created the images it’s trained on, all of humanity since the totality of humanity is necessary for all of this to happen, and really Earth and existence as a whole – in its fullest extent and going back to the beginning of time – since all of it is necessary for any of this to happen.

SADNESS AND HOLLOWNESS

There is also another side to this.

I am hoping it will help me get back into a more old-fashioned and hands-on image-making. I would love to get back into drawing and perhaps painting or even ceramics.

It taps into some sadness of having abandoned something I loved so much and was so passionate about. I used to be unable to not draw daily and would draw for hours at a time and often through the night. It helped me come alive and connect with something deep and full in myself.

There is also a kind of hollowness in it. I love what comes out of it. I tap into my knowledge of art and art history when I make the images. I typically spend a lot of time refining the prompts. I create a lot of images and select the ones I like the most. And so on. So there is work going into it. But it also feels a bit hollow. It’s “just” a digital image and not something you can touch, hold and smell. It’s not something I created with my own hands. And that makes a difference.

THE SOCIAL ASPECTS OF AI

And there is more, which has a personal component since I live in this world.

I don’t like the term “artificial intelligence“. The program can mimic intelligence to a certain extent but it’s not intelligent. It’s based on statistics. When it comes to image generation, it predicts what elements typically go together. To me, AI is a misnomer.

It’s trained on a huge amount of images, so what it produces is a kind of average based on that material. The images are, at best, solid and good but not exceptional.

AI will take the job from some people, but not those very skilled at what they do. And AI will also make a lot of new kinds of jobs. I imagine that what we’ll see is similar to CGI in movie-making. It’s one tool among many others. And we’ll see a mix of AI and more traditional approaches, and interesting processes and dynamics between the two.

As with so much, it will likely not be as good as we hope and not as bad as we fear.

Image: An example of what I make with Midjourney that I would like to see. In this case, an imagined bronze sculpture with a certain expression and light.

Be OK with not being OK – an AI-generated article

As many others, I am fascinated by AI-generated images and text these days. (There has been a huge improvement in the publicly accessible AIs over the last months.)

What if I ask ChatGPT to write an article for me?

As so often, the result is surprisingly good although a bit conventional.

The two following sections are ChatGTP’s brief article on the benefits of being OK with not being OK, and some practical pointers on how we can move in that direction. I’ll follow it with my own reflections.

THE BENEFITS OF BEING OK WITH NOT BEING OK [ChatGTP]

Being okay with not being okay can have several benefits. Some of these include:

  1. Increased self-awareness: By accepting that it’s normal to have negative emotions and that it’s okay to not be okay, you can become more aware of your own emotional states and how they affect you.
  2. Reduced stress: Trying to suppress or ignore negative emotions can lead to increased stress and anxiety. By accepting that it’s okay to feel negative emotions, you can reduce the stress of trying to hide or deny them.
  3. Improved mental health: When you’re able to accept that it’s okay to not be okay, you can start to work through your negative emotions in a healthy way. This can lead to improved mental health and overall well-being.
  4. Increased empathy: When you’re okay with not being okay, you can be more empathetic towards others. By recognizing that everyone goes through difficult times, you can have more compassion for others and be a better friend and support for them.
  5. Improved relationships: When you’re okay with not being okay, you can be more vulnerable and authentic with others. This can lead to deeper and more meaningful connections with others.
  6. Greater self-compassion: When you’re okay with not being okay, you can be more compassionate and understanding towards yourself. This can lead to greater self-esteem and overall well-being.
  7. Better problem-solving ability: When you’re okay with not being okay, you can be more realistic and objective about your problems and find effective solutions to them.

HOW CAN I BE MORE OK WITH NOT BEING OK? [ChatGTP]

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions in the present moment. This can help you accept and acknowledge your negative emotions, rather than trying to suppress them.
  2. Allow yourself to feel your emotions: Instead of trying to push away negative emotions, try to allow yourself to feel them. This doesn’t mean dwelling on them, but rather acknowledging their presence and allowing them to pass through you.
  3. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and understanding towards yourself when you’re not feeling okay. Remind yourself that everyone goes through difficult times, and it’s normal to have negative emotions.
  4. Talk to someone: Sometimes, talking to a friend or therapist can help you process and understand your emotions better. This can help you to understand that you’re not alone in your feelings and can help you to find ways to cope with them.
  5. Practice gratitude: Focusing on the things you are grateful for can help shift your focus away from negative emotions and towards positive thoughts.
  6. Engage in self-care: Taking care of yourself through activities such as exercise, yoga, meditation, or journaling can help you feel more grounded and centered, making it easier to process and accept negative emotions.
  7. Learn to let go: Sometimes, it’s not possible to change the situation that’s causing negative emotions. In this case, it’s important to learn to let go and accept that you can’t control everything.
  8. Find a healthy outlet: Finding a healthy way to express negative emotions, such as through writing, art, or exercise, can be a helpful tool to process and understand them.

Remember that it’s a process, it’s not something that you can achieve overnight. Be patient and compassionate with yourself and keep trying different things until you find something that works for you.

SOME REFLECTIONS

As I mentioned, I find these brief articles surprisingly good. These are pointers I find helpful for myself and would be happy to share with a friend or client.

Why are they so good? Because the AI has learned from the best produced by humans.

Why are they a bit conventional? For the same reason. They take the best of what’s out there in the mainstream.

Will AI replace humans? Not really. Humans still need to interact with the AI, craft good questions and input, and edit and quality-control the output. Also, the AI is fed by human creations. It’s dependent on the insights, experiences, and creations of humans.

Will AI essays be a problem in our educational system? (After all, students can create completely original and relatively high-quality works using AI.) Not necessarily, and if it’s a problem, that may be good. Supporting students by grading them – in this case based on essays – was always a poor way to do it. The existence of AI text-generators just requires teachers to be a bit more innovative. They can, for instance, ask students to first produce the best possible AI-generated text on a topic and then critique and evaluate it.

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