I cannot draw worth a damn.
In fact, that’s an understatement. I would go so far as to say I’m so terrible at drawing that most 10-year-olds couple probably match or exceed my drawing skills.
Believe me, I’ve tried to draw things. My love of comic books inspired me early on to try. But I learned very quickly that this is just not a skill that I have, nor is it a skill I can ever be good at. No amount of classes can make me good at it. No amount of lessons, encouragement, or practice could ever make me halfway decent at it. I genuinely wish I had some drawing skills, but I don’t.
Now, I’m going out of my way to bemoan my terrible drawing skills for a reason. For much of my life, I’ve accepted that this just isn’t something I can do. Everybody has shortcomings. This just happens to be mine. And for the most part, I’ve been content to live my life knowing I’ll never draw anything worthwhile.
Then, AI-generated art started to emerge. And suddenly, there’s an alternative. It may just give people like me hope that they can one day create genuinely beautiful artwork without any tangible drawing skills.
I mentioned it recently, but I don’t think I adequately conveyed just how exciting this new technology is for someone like me. I’ve talked a lot about the potential of artificial intelligence, good and bad. But a lot of that was just me speculating on the potential. This is a real, usable product of artificial intelligence that anyone with an internet connection and basic language skills can use right now for free.
This isn’t some fanciful tech from a fictional future. This is real.
It might not be overly advanced in that it can perfectly turn out thoughts into an image. It’s still relatively crude in that it basically just takes images from the internet and uses them to mix, mash, and compile images based on prompts. But like all emerging technology, it has to start off crude. Over time, people and organizations implement refinements. The product gets better, more advanced, and more efficient.
Eventually, it becomes so capable that we marvel at how crude it used to be. Just show anyone under the age of 20 an old flip-phone for proof of that.
For me personally, AI-generated art is more than just a toy or a novelty. It’s a way for me, a man with no ability to draw anything, to turn ideas into an image. I can’t overstate how powerful that is for some people. And I really do look forward to seeing this technology grow in terms of capability and efficiency.
To demonstrate just how remarkable it is, I used an AI-generating art programs on the web called Stable Diffusion to create some art. This is something anyone can use right now for free. Granted, this is a beta version so the results aren’t going to look overly professional. But for something that’s free and easy to use, it’s still remarkable.
Below are just some of the images I created, along with the prompts I used.
A beautiful woman admiring a sunset.
A Christmas tree in the forest during a snowstorm.
A lush Amazon jungle with a river.
A futuristic city skyline.
A female android with blue eyes.
A shadowy figure in a forest.
A couple walking through a forest during a snowstorm.
A man running from a forest fire.
A woman standing at the summit of a mountain.
A tornado forming in a city.
Again, I cannot draw. I cannot paint or create images on a piece of paper or a computer screen. But thanks to Stable Diffusion, I was able to create these in just a few minutes. It cost me nothing and it was a genuinely profound experience, turning ideas into an image.
And keep in mind, this was just the free beta of the program. There are more advanced programs you can test out, but you do have to sign up and apply for their use. There are also some versions that you have to pay for. Once this technology gets especially refined, that might be something worth the money. Knowing I’ll never be able to physically draw, it’s definitely something I’ll consider.
For now, I’ll be keeping a close eye on this emerging technology. If I create more quality AI-Generated art, I’ll be sure to share it too.
And if you’re like me in that you don’t have good drawing skills, or any drawing skills for that matter, check out Stable Diffusion. Create some art that you never would’ve been able to otherwise create. It’s a great feeling and something that might help get you excited about the future of creativity.
Artificial Intelligence Is Struggling With Racism (And The Larger Implications)
There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the world. Its potential is so vast that some even say it will be mankind’s last invention. Once it gets to a certain point, it won’t just be better at everything humans do. It may very well supplant humanity as the dominant life form on this planet. There are no shortage of movies that depict how dire that could be.
That said, it’s bound to go through some growing pains. Not all of those pains will involve a Skynet-level malfunction, but they will warrant concern.
At the moment, our artificial intelligence is still limited. It’s not dumb, but it’s very limited. It can do certain tasks very well, like play chess or win Jeopardy. It can’t apply that intelligence at a broader macro level like a human.
That still makes them useful and they’re still advancing rapidly. Artificial intelligence programs are used frequently for tasks like moderating comments sections and tracking sales data. The problem with these programs is that, since the AI is not generally intelligent, humans have to fill in the gaps. Since humans are flawed and bias, those traits sometimes find their way into the AI.
That’s what happened recently with YouTube’s comment moderation algorithms. As an aspiring YouTuber, I know how imperfect those algorithms can be. The intentions are noble. These AI programs are supposed to curtail hate speech. The internet needs that right now. Anyone who has ever visited 4chan knows that.
However, sometimes the AI systems are so narrow that they don’t ese the forest from the trees. That’s what happened recently when those systems mistook discussions about chess for racist language. Tech Xplore did an article on it and while it’s somewhat humorous on the surface, it’s also quite revealing.
Tech Xplore: AI May Mistake Chess Discussions as Racist Talk
Now, should we be concerned? Is it worrying that an AI with the backing of Google couldn’t surmise that simple terms like “black vs. white” were referring to chess and not race relations?
The short answer is not really.
The longer answer is not really, but we should learn important lessons from this.
The AI systems that moderate YouTube comments are nowhere near the kinds of systems we’d see in an artificial general intelligence. It’s like comparing a steam engine to a modern rocket. That said, we had to learn how to make a damn good steam engine before we could learn to make a decent rocket.
With something like advanced artificial intelligence, the margin for error is very small. You could even argue there is no margin for error. That’s why so many worry that such an AI could be an existential threat to humanity. If its too flawed to understand the difference between chess and racist rhetoric, then we could be in serious trouble.
The problem, in this case, isn’t with the nature of the AI. It’s with us, its creators. Since we humans are so flawed, racism being one of our worst flaws, it’s understandable that this sort of thing would find its way into our programming. It already has in a number of fields.
Again, those types of systems are limited and narrow. There’s a lot of room for human flaws to enter the system.
With advanced AI, those flaws could end up being extremely damaging. If too many of them find their way into a more advanced AI, we wouldn’t end up with a helpful, usable system. We’d end up with something like Skynet or Ultron. At that point, we’d be in serious trouble and we wouldn’t be able to rely on John Conner or the Avengers to save us.
We still have time. This latest issue with YouTube’s algorithms is minor, in the grand scheme of things, and fairly easy to correct. Once we get around to creating more advanced systems, though, we need to be aware of these flaws. We need to remember that any advanced AI we create will reflect our best and worst qualities. Let’s make sure our best win out in the long run.
Filed under Artificial Intelligence, technology, YouTube
Tagged as AGI, Artificial General Intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, artificial superintelligence, Chess Discussion, comments moderation, computer intelligence, computers, Flawed AI, machine intelligence, machine learning, Racism, racist, racist discussion, Rage Against the Machine, technological singularity, technology, The Queen's Gambit, Weak AI, YouTube, YouTube Comments, YouTube Comments Section, YouTube Video