If you’re lucky enough to have escaped the media hype and don’t know what Stable Diffusion is, it’s part of a wave of text to image AIs that pop out art with simple text prompts. So you can say “make me a cat that’s surfing mars” and you’ll get something instantly at the push of a button. It’s resting on the data used without permission of thousands of artists on the internet, and there are cries that the AI is ripping off many artist’s work. It’s even led to calls that computers will replace artists or continue to use artist’s work for free without their permission.
If a computer can create a vision cheaper and faster than an artist, then why pay artists to do anything at all or even interact with them? Why should anyone bother to make art if a computer can do it? Some people are already throwing up their hands and paintbrushes.
Dancing with AI
At hardware hack night we recognize those questions but at the same time, we’re like… why not just dance with the AI robots instead? We whipped out our watercolor paintings and jammed to the prompts. It was pretty fun and having discussions in-person with raw materials beat out any online video conference meeting.
Here the robot showed us a Mexican surf hackerspace with soldering, and we painted accordingly. Or an Ada Lovelace’s hackerspace session, how it might have appeared if she had been coding and jamming with some LEDs. It was really fun and it led to a lot of cool discussions about art in the age of reproduction Walter Benjamin style. For now the robots haven’t replaced us, but they’re helping us do more with less, at least until the algorithms improve and realize they don’t need humans at all.
This proved to be a big hit, so we think we’re going to theme our hardware hack nights and Thursday everything! everywhere! all at once! programming sessions on these topics. It was cool escaping the 2D computer screen for a while too..