We’ve all had the experience, some more often than others no doubt, but is there anywhere anyone who hasn’t had an “Aha!” moment? That burst from out of the blue that shows you something you never have seen before or clears up something that always before has been muddled, or maybe generates in you a profound desire to do something creative and unprecedented. Like, right now!
Inspiration! What a rush! How it is for others I can only guess, but how it is for me is as though I’m hanging around minding my own business and this life force grabs hold of me, says, “There is something that needs to happen and you’re the chosen vehicle.” I guess you can refuse if you want, free will and all that, but it’s pretty compelling in taking you along for the ride.
We’ve all heard artists say a song wrote itself, a painting just emerged from the brush, a story poured forth onto the page and the artist was merely the vessel. Is that too cute by half, or can we accept that expression can be an entity of its own that chooses to be revealed?
The Big Bang created the universe. God said, “Let there be light and there was light.” Those to me are mysterious forces, that place, wherever it may have been from which life emerged and began that long journey to today, appears to me the very definition of inspiration.
So inspiration being a life force of its own in these matters of artistry and artistic moments of living doesn’t seem like much of a stretch. Whatever its origin, whatever its motivation, life seems to have its way with us and like bees carrying pollen from flower to flower, it feels at times that we are merely couriers of its impetus. Who’s driving this train anyhow?
All this somehow comes to mind from a conversation I had the other day with my friend, Dianne. As she often does, she was enlightening me about what was new that thoughtful people should consider. This conversation was about ChatGPT, the latest and greatest way to scrub the Internet for dazzling products you can use, duplicitously if you choose, by putting Artificial Intelligence to work HERE.
What I know about A.I., the Singularity, all the wondrous aspects of the brave new world the geeks with tweaks are building for us, is not much more than what I’ve read, gathered conventionally, and tried to understand as something other than the Big Four refining us into ever more dependable, compliant, susceptible consumers for the advertisers who enrich them. I’m old enough to remember when Google trumpeted the mantra, “First, Do No Harm.” That seems to have evolved into “Now, Do No Less.” I’m not old enough yet to know who cares but even the very big boys are shaken by the new kid HERE.
My friend’s thought is that this technology, which has been funded by $billions in venture capital to date with no less than Microsoft standing by to invest $tens of billions more; that this device, if we can call it such, will soon put illustrators and copywriters out of work. As an example, a friend came by with a dog. Dianne asked that ChatGPT render that breed in a painting in the manner of Norman Rockwell. The result was really quite good, she reports, and she is an artist who knows more than a little something about art.
College professors and high school teachers are receiving written reports from students that clearly exceed their modest talent and education. The device will crank out a thoroughly researched and amply footnoted article on the subject of your choosing, which you can try claiming as your own if you dare. No thought on your part is required.
The songwriter Nick Cave reacted to a fan who sent him a song “rendered in the style of Nick Cave” and thought not much of it but had a lot to say about it HERE. That it may be a bad song really isn’t the point, Dianne suggests, because this technology already is good and will quickly become even better.
His feelings reflect that sense I have, though, in thinking about all this that there is something about re-creation that lacks what makes creation unique. We can replicate great works in “the manner of” and assemble volumes of information in ways that equal the best and highest uses of it that has gone before. But, and it is the big BUT of this rumination, it can’t create anything without some inspiration to have it do so. Maybe that’s just my imagination.
Does Artificial Intelligence have imagination? If not, it’s an unsuitable vehicle for that life force that visits us as inspiration. Whatever else the Open A.I. gang brings to the table to replace our human capabilities, there will be at least one function it can’t substitute. Someone among us has to push the button when the spirit moves us.