How is AI shaping culture in the art world?

AI Video & Visuals

In this episode of GZERO AI, Taylor OwenOwen, host of the podcast “Machines Like Us,” reflected on a conversation he had with media theorist Douglas Rushkoff about the cultural impact of the ongoing AI revolution and raised some questions: Will AI enhance cultural production, like Auto-Tune or Photoshop? Or will it produce art that truly moves society? Will people care about AI's role in cultural production? Yet, Owen noted, current AI-generated content often lacks the cultural depth that our art and culture crave.

So I recently had a great conversation with media theorist Douglas Rushkoff about what the current state of AI means for our culture.

For the past 30 years, Rushkoff has been documenting the relationship between emerging technologies and the response of our cultural production. And in our conversation, he mentioned a really great observation by Neil Postman, the great media theorist who came up with the idea of ​​”fun to death.” When asked to describe what media is, Postman responded, “Media are the medium in which culture grows. They're the culture dishes in which we grow culture as a society.” This is a great metaphor, and it got me thinking: If media is what culture grows in, what kind of culture will grow out of AI?

Will this culture be like Auto-Tune or Photoshop? In other words, will it be AI-augmented cultural production? What kind of art will be made with AI? Will it be made by AI? Will it be used to create the equivalent of bathroom art, as Rushkoff pointed out? Or will it make real art that influences us and moves us as a society? And how will we, the citizens, know the role AI has played in cultural production? Will we care? Will we want things like GMO and organic labels on AI-powered cultural production? Or will we demand AI-free spaces, as we are beginning to emerge, where we are guaranteed that our art has not been touched by AI, both online and in the physical world? And would we care, even if we knew that the art was AI-driven and created entirely by AI?

And I'm very skeptical of this. I worry that it won't. And when I look at the world of culture produced by AI, it seems to be slowing down. My Twitter feed is full of AI-generated crap, and I don't see the whimsical, fun, powerful, important cultural content that's being produced by AI, which is what we need as a society and what we want from arts and culture.

I hope that this will change. I really hope so. And I hope that we should look at the evolution of AI in our society through the lens of what kind of culture it's building. Taylor Owen here. Thanks for watching.

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