AI visions of an apocalyptic future



I recently discovered a so-called creative AI in its open beta testing stage that allows folks to generate images simply by writing keywords into a chat box. Curious to see how it performed and having just read a deeply depressing article about the unrelenting pace of climate change, I began by chaining together "collodion, climate, disaster, desolation" and hit enter. After a minute or so the images began to render, each of them a haunting, some might say hauntingly prophetic vision of an apocalyptic future.


One of the reasons I was experimenting with the beta was becuase I'd seen some commentary of social media decrying the term "creative" being associated with an AI, the obvious concern being that as AI become more adept at simulating and then innovating original compositions human creatives might find themselves losing out both creatively and financially. Critics cite the lack of creative soul and a coming tidal wave of cheap, easily produced AI art that will swamp the marketplace. Others are quick to ask how an AI can comment on the human condition, when all it seems to be doing is recycling reference materials, even if it does do this rather well.


On the flip side there is a growing online community of people using this technology to generate what ammount to fan art that they can use in their own creative projects. Scrolling through other examples on the beta test site it was clear that most of the users were interested in creating fantasy characters and landscapes rooted in their own personal interests. D&D players could have a lot of fun with this, and there was a suggestion that this could be used to generate imagery for online games that might be eagerly welcomed by independent designers.


Looking at these images I ask myself whether it is somehow more fitting that such terrifying visions were produced by an AI, foreshadowing a desolate future wasteland where a few scattered lines of code constitute the final remnants of human civilisaiton. It's a bleak consideration I know but I am intrigued by the AI, and yet also a little unsure what to make of it. I can't pretend to understand how it works, and doubt I would even if someone explained it to me, repeatedly, but there is definitely something eeriely prophetic about a process that appears to make a quick survey of available reference materials and then spit out a damning prediction, a dark tarot.





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