43 Comments
Feb 25Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Loved this.

Highly recommend watching Mango Street's "You're Wrong about AI Art" (https://youtu.be/LuPGkgHODgM)

"All AI art can really do is add more voiceless noise to the world of relentlessly churning cheap content. If you're a part of that machine then yes AI will inevitably steamroll you, but if you're not it will accentuate your value as a singular voice a person who has something worth saying."

Because... "Art is what happens when a human feels feels a powerful emotion or experience and then translates it through an artistic medium to be felt and understood by another human"

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that definition of Art is so goooood omg I am saving that. Thanks Justin.

Also the vid really captures an idea I was starting to play with but hadn't put into words which is that authenticity / reality has never been a given. instagram posts that are copies of copies feel fake because they are, just like movies and tv shows often feel fake because they are. watch most multicam sitcoms on broadcast tv and they feel nothing like reality. it gets thorny though, since there's also a suspension of disbelief idea with art - we choose to forget that something isn't real so we can experience it as real...idk this is making my brain hurt but in a good way so thank you for that

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there's a comment in a reddit thread I keep thinking about though that complicates this whole idea - a dude who works in pre-production for films said that a lot of job opportuntiies for people starting out in these fields are more assistant / journeymen roles. the work sucks and is boring and rote, but its how a lot of people learn how to do the job and end up having careers in these industries where they go on to be a lot more creative. i worry a lot about all of that going away. about the pipelines to making creative pursuits careers (even if they aren't the most sexy and fun work) way less posible

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Gonna recommend another great video that hits on this: https://youtu.be/rswxcDyotXA

"How disruptive AI art will actually be is not yet clear, but it will definitely have some sort of role and artists are going to have to adapt and the rest of us should take note. If you think what's happening to a bunch of illustrators doesn't concern you, think again. The fear and anxiety the art community feels is going to spread many of us will have to adapt any mind work that can get automated will get automated blue collar workers have been living this for decades now it's white collar workers turn".

It sucks, but it seems like a bit of "adapt or get left behind". This machines, at least initially, are still going to need people to pilot them.

I forget where I read it, but there was this guy (I think) in the early 20th century who predicted that with technological advances when we reached the current time that we're in, that we have this abundance of leisure time. And one of my other fears that just like how we (as a society) filled in that extra (gained) time with more work, that instead of using these advances to make things *better* (higher quality) we're instead going to use them to make *more* (junk). Because thats what these business models incentivize.

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I have a seemingly neverending list of concerns around AI and what it may (or may not) do, but the decrease in opportunities for "shitty" jobs, is my #1 concern.<

What are those kids drowning in student loans going to do as they finish their education? They're no longer needed for the simpler jobs, but the simpler jobs is how you learn to do the complexer jobs.

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I wonder if the common thread that enables this this suspension of disbelief is authenticity/sincerity. Genuine desire for transmission of that feeling or knowledge to another person.

I honestly think all of this generative junk is going to lead to people being having even more sensitive bullshit/uncanny-valley-meters. But it is really scary and def faces some ethical conundrums as it continues to improve, if/when it does get to the point where its indiscernible from "real".

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Feb 24Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

what a banger first post from Alex!

how's all this AI stuff making me feel?

it's making me feel like everyone needs to go read on bullshit: https://www2.csudh.edu/ccauthen/576f12/frankfurt__harry_-_on_bullshit.pdf

it's making me feel like everything is changing and that is... scary

it's making me feel like nothing ever changes... a thing that was supposed to shatter the very foundation of society was introduced a year ago, and we're all still here living ordinary lives, feeling ordinary feelings.

it's making me want to go touch grass and run as far away from LinkedIn and Twitter posts that starts with:

HUGE AI NEWS!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Second sentence goes here about some HUGE thing AI accomplished.

Link to post or video.

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lol- there's something so nice and simple about 'we're all still here living ordinary lives, feeling ordinary feelings.'

i've been thinking about this a lot - how our feelings stay the same, the stories we attach to them change over time but the feelings - fear joy etc - those are day oners lol

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Feb 24·edited Feb 24Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Love to see Alex on the Sublime newsletter - love his work.

And great perspective on both the inevitability and realities of AI.

I agree that culture will definitely shift with it and Art will continue.

Many artists will suffer financially and be forced to pivot/expand/find new ways to commercialize their work and talents.

It will also be an opportunity - though few artists or professionals currently see it that way:

If AI can do X thing that I have built my life around, what am I now to do?

Well, find something else. Reinvent yourself. Opportunity.

Scary perhaps, difficult, life-threatening - but it's an opportunity to expand your experience of life as you know it. Cool.

As an actor I ponder the importance of bringing my humanity to the fore in my work.

The importance of leaning into what makes me ME more than ever.

The importance of human individuality.

I especially loved the final video. Pure gold.

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Hi Belén! Thanks for the super kind words! I'm curious what ideas have come of your ponderings about what brings your humanity to the fore? I think about that stuff a lot in the abstract but have struggled to come up with any specifics haha

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Feb 26·edited Feb 26Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Super welcome! Re: humanity...to me it's the divine mystery -- what it means to be a human. Even the most studied, most self-aware human will continue to hit emotional walls, fall into black holes within themselves, because can we ever really know ourselves?

And so I think that ever-fluid tension between who we think we are, who we continually shape ourselves into being, and our deepest emotional core, our "programming" what have you -- a desire to explore that, live in it and put it on display through a character or other art form -- is what I would call bringing my humanity to the fore.

What AI is doing really is begging urgently the question, "What makes us human?" I'm contemplating that now more than ever. TBD -- let's start a discussion group around it! Ha.

To conclude: The more open and vulnerable I am with myself and in my work, the more distance I create between me or my art, and any sort of AI replica of either.

Thanks for spurring great thoughts and questions.

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honestly hell yes let's start a discussion group!! wanna join the Sublime Slack community? We can make a channel for this and chat idk could be dope

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It's making me feel like I need to go outside and touch some grass. Everything seems to be staged, nothing looks real anymore.

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All the world was a stage back in the Shakespeare days too (something I remind myself when I too go touch grass and still feel crappy lol)

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AI does what I do. I had been a successful email-spam-from-elegant-hotel copywriter to pay my mortgage. I no longer get calls to write emails. The mortgage guy keeps calling, tho.

I don’t begrudge AI. I invested in it. (A bit too late to celebrate with caviar just yet.) But I turn to ChattyG (my pet name for ChatGPT) for all sorts of “hand-me-a-screwdriver” moments in my writing process. ChattyG is a beautiful tool like my paperback rhyming dictionary I once gifted to my junior copywriter as a going-away-present. She looked at its well worn pages and said “I use the internet.” For me, today I keep a ChattyG tab open next to RhymeZone.com, and TheFreeDictionary.com. These invaluable resources contain every (already-existing)word needed to write… but they don’t replace writers, the empower them. Same-same for ChattyG. I’ll be fine. I’m actually more concerned for Google.com. How will THEY pay their mortgage once people find out that ChattyG gives people answers to questions instead of wild-goose-chase-links… Links that never flippin’ answer how-to-cook-steak-on-a-cast-iron-pan-in-the-oven. (When you NEEEEEED the answer in less than 4 minutes.)

ChattyG stole (saved me from?) my email writing gigs, but it’s still my bestest friend helping me brainstorm bigger (rarer) gigs that require concepting (someday the spellcheck gods will recognize concepting as a word.) (that last aside would be funnier if you could see the red line under “concepting” like I do.)

ChattyGs can’t “concept,” though, on its own. But it can help jog my mind to ah-ha moments.

Alex, your tilt illustration is so chefs-kiss genius that AI is still scratching its head about it.

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hahahaha omg ChattyG is so good it feels like Kenny G's weird cousin.

agree 1000% about concepting - that's the weird messy human stuff.

and thanks about the platform-tilt thing! I don't think its a coincidence that one of the things that AI has the hardest time with is comedy!

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Feb 25Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Love this comment Shawn. Yes to the bigger/rarer gigs that require concepting. Concept composers are what the world is aching for. <3

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Thanks Sari, I feel it all so deeply, it almost wrote itself.

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Great post! I've been thinking a lot about "leaning into the weird" and being "purposefully imperfect" as a potential response to AI. It strikes me that so much of what goes viral these days on TikTok is quite strange: people making out with Shrek filters, a man turning into a horse as he opens his refrigerator etc.

All of this is quite odd and would likely have felt at home in experimental art decades ago. It would have been fringe but now such media gets 50k+ likes. It feels like even leaning into the weird wouldn't be enough as the weird and the imperfect are becoming "normalized" on social media platforms. There has been a "tilt" rendering the absurd into yawn-inducing trends. I'm curious/terrified to see what springs up.

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dude this is so well said!! If the weird becomes normalized, then the normal will become weird! Like, maybe the craziest thing in a few years will be a show that's just two people talking.

you're so so right about how part of the weird being weird is that it exists under the radar, growing organically and in secret as the strange response to whatever is happening in society. but when this weird thing becomes normalized and monetized so quickly, it has no time to be weird and find itself. like, the early internet was weird as hell because no one knew about it. now there's no time before a tilt becomes a platform! like AI is a perfect example - AI is such a cool weird tilt but it's dead on arrival bc there's so much money put into it before it can really find itself.

does this make any sense??

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It definitely makes sense! I forgot the point about the strangeness of the early internet. Yeah at some point the most shocking thing you can do is say “hello” to someone on the bus…oh wait, we may already be there!

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I've heard chatter recently about the novelty of untouched faces, meaning women in particular who don't invest in things like Botox, filler and advanced skincare regimens. Will a face with smile lines and crow's feet captivate us when they are rare?

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What you should do is stop torturing the English language.

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Thanks for the tip :)

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RemovedFeb 28
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Ulises - We work hard to keep this corner of the Internet wholesome. Please take this energy elsewhere.

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Hey Alex killer post. Beautifully done. TY for that.

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thank you David for reading!

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Feb 26Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

Where is the text to humor AI at?

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This is the question Michael!! Did u see my AI video? Now that’s comedy

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Mar 11Liked by Alex Dobrenko`

The very not AI video made me laugh out loud. How did you make it if not AI?

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pure creative talent

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Love your thoughts on it…the tilting is the dangerous part

The fact that the AI founders have so much power is the dangerous part

The fact that the best AI products will only be accessible with a high price tag and it’s becoming big business is the dangerous part

The fact that there is absolutely no control is the dangerous part

The fact that it’s open to all people in our society are usually led like cattle is the dangerous part

The only good part is witnessing the amazing advancement of technology the same way people from the thirties experienced old cars, old typewriters, old phones and their unbelievable advances to this day…and we’re all still ok…so maybe there is hope for humanity…

I believe governments should protect art and culture the same way Europe did in the past centuries…

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I'm... absolutely floored by the writing here, Alex. Pulled me in within 60 seconds.

It's not really a subject I intentionally explore much these days. It seems like every third article in any of my algorithmic *and* curated feeds/subscriptions is about AI this or that. But the hook for me with this piece was contemplating the artists and the golem of irrelevance.

I mean, I'm an artist. I make many types of art. Not very well, with most of them, mind you; but I still love to create as broad-spectrum and as often as I can.

I was out the gate with AI (beta tester on Midjourney from concept to about a year ago. ugh.), and once it started getting amazing, I got bored. I can't imagine where we're going to be in 5 years, but I'm entirely certain human art will remain the gloriously ingenious weirdness it forever has been. Art will survive and flourish, as always.

Thanks for the hope, friend. 🫂

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This was great Alex and I wish the conversation underneath was happening in a coffee shop somewhere near me because its exactly what I long for! I'd like to recommend a post by Ted Gioia to accompany yours entitled 'The State of Culture in 2024': https://www.honest-broker.com/p/the-state-of-the-culture-2024

One of the biggest dangers of AI "art" is simply that it will be difficult to escape so that even if you have an enquiring mind that seeks out the deviation you're gonna struggle to find it amongst the mass of algorithmically perfected pap - at least online. This will have an upside and a downside; the upside is that hopefully the likes of you and me and everyone else commenting below will leave our screens more often to congregate in coffee shops and venues and abandoned shopfronts to experience art unmediated by a f*cking algorithm that thinks it knows me because of data gathered from a device that I share with my Chinese wife and 8 year old daughter! The downside is that we will be in a minority and the common ground between the "deviants" and the mainstream will widen further. Scenesters will be fine with this, the more outcast they are the more validated they feel but segregation in any form is bad news for society as a whole. My advice? Don't believe the media and tech gurus kids, get outside and talk to people - they're okay.

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4. I’m guessing my ChattyOuija ‘writing friend’ - who spouts overly wordy, semi-obvious, tone-free prose - she will never sing her heart out daily for the ocean, the sky, seabirds, seals, cedar trees, seaweed, salt, bioluminescent bugs, rocks, etc. Not spontaneously and unabashedly weird AF songs with no words. Not like a human in full-TILT, defiant love with Mama Earth. (To be fair, her videos may excel at mimicry and obviousness and run on sentences, though. Thank you, Cleveland!)

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I love this reframing and I am entirely on board with it.

The existential threat from A.I., at least in the short term, is the one that has nothing to do with artificial intelligences and everything to do with artificial humans - the ones with workplace power that value profit and ease of scalability (ease of greater profits) at the expense of all the humans that depend on them.

I'm sure a lot will go down re. protective legislation. I'm sure it'll be an unholy mess, out of which something humane will painfully struggle to its feet. But in the short term, as you say - the artists.

Back when I started writing for a living (just 15 years ago, I'm such a fraud as an Experienced Veteran) I was one of the many desperate noobs who would take any job going, including those utterly grim 500 words for ten bucks SEO keyword-stuffing pieces. I wrote ten pieces for American Express via a third party, that were designed to never be read by humans, which I learned far far far too late, and after I'd poured my soul into them for months, and then that third party delayed paying me for a year until I threatened to contact American Express directly. If it paid, I would write it. And in this way, I never made any real money.

This stuff still goes on, and still traps new writers into making no money. But A.I. is going to make all of it go away. Humans will not do this anymore, and the machines will start writing for the machines, creating a huge ouroboros of garbage that will fuel chum-boxes (looking at you, Taboola and Outbrain) and advertising-infested websites and all the horrors that have made a lot of the internet ugly and dumb for the last decade. And maybe, just maybe, writers can finally be liberated from all of that nonsense. At last. And they can recognise, at last, that their job is to write for other humans, and cut out the idiotic artificial humans in the middle, because the time for "apprenticing" ourselves to these fools is over (and maybe now we can see what a fool's game that always was).

That's my hope.

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And yet more bullshit from a man, whose acting like an expert in art, who can't even figure out that his title looks like shit.

Titlecase your titles, noob.

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lol what

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The title of your article is sloppy and shows a lack of appreciation for aesthetics. Thus, your opinion on art is worthless.

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noted!

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Your audience did as well ;p

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this is a really interesting subject. As an artist myself, i can see both sides of the coin. The use of AI tools to generate content in a content driven world might be described as an artform in-and-of itself. it can open the doors for creative expression in new ways, by who never thought they had a creative spark.

Let's consider the artists who authentically express creativity organically without AI tools or apply/express their "craftsmanship" through traditional works of creativity. They're likely to have a niche despite advances in generative art. Some challenges for these more 'traditional' artists is to find ways to express authentically, to develop attractive discovery-mechanisms for the works they create in a content-driven market that's very much saturated. The key here is, and always will be, that 'connection' point, whether that's genuine-self-expression or displaying sense-of-mystique. AI tools can either make this part easier or not, make it more exciting or more generic. Much depends on the perspective of the one who employs the tools. At the end of the day AI is still Input-processing-output. Regardless of whether its moral use AI tools or not to create art, the question is still the same... how do you connect with the audience, and how do you stand out from the crowd?

thanks for opening up the conversation.

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