Everyday Epiphany, humor

Appreciating Unartificial Intelligence

 AI here! AI there! AI everywhere!

If you haven’t heard about Artificial Intelligence, once you’re rescued from that desert island where you’ve been stranded, Google it. 

If you do, you’ve used AI and AI used you.

Artificial Intelligence or AI is a buzzword that pestered me to the point where I needed to swat it away with knowledge or I’d have to pretend that I knew what it was whenever I chatted with anyone not yet eligible for Medicare.

After superficial research, (I read one Forbes article, watched a humorous segment of Jane Pauly’s “CBS Sunday Morning,” and scanned a New York Times account about AI. I’m not working on a Ph.D.) I retained a modicum of information enabling me to nod knowingly when my son responded to my “how’s work going” inquiry. 

Artificial Intelligence is when computer programs solve problems that usually require human knowhow. (Think “Terminator” except not scary.) When I Google searched “Artificial Intelligence” it’s as if a librarian scanned a bazillion journals in a millisecond, copied relevant articles, and stacked copies on my desk. 

That’s me using AI.

Artificial Intelligence also recognizes patterns in data. It’s as if that extremely busy librarian paused to compliment my choice of shoes and suggested a snazzy pair of ankle boots on sale at Nordstrom’s. The AI “recognizing patterns in data” component generates the numerous ads appearing in your emails, social media, and dreams (ok, I made up that last one.).

That’s AI using me.

As I see it, by Googling “Artificial Intelligence” the metaphorical librarian tended to my research inquiry instantly freeing it to attend to more important tasks than providing material for the nonsense that I write. 

In my shallow research, I happened upon an article about Jason M. Allen of Pueblo West, Colorado who won first prize at the state fair for digital artistry. He used the AI program Midjourney that creates images from lines of text. Jason clearly stated that his canvas had been AI created so he hadn’t violate the rules. It’s the first time that art generated by AI had won a prize. Although met with criticism, the judges stood by their decision.

“Théâtre D’opéra Spatial,” Mr. Allen’s prize winning work is amazing. 

See for yourself.


On To My Nonsense

One article I read included a link to DALL-E mini, a program which turned text into images. 

How tough could this be? I said to myself. I’m a writer. I’ll describe an image and A I will create it.

As it turned out, it was pretty tough. 

My first line of text “an avocado turning into guacamole” yielded an avocado with a lump of green mush next to it.

My second try “Michelangelo’s David holding a cockatiel” generated a monstrous stone face with a blue flash of feather- not even close to the David cradling a bird that I had in mind.

Trying a different strategy, I began with a photo I had taken and described it in different ways. 

While strolling Venice Beach in Florida I happened upon a message in the sand. A previous beachcomber had used shells to form the letters for the word “joy.” In my attempt to replicate the photo I typed in the text “seashells in the sand that spell out joy.” AI got the shell part, but not the “joy” part. As you can see, AI DID understand “beer.”

During recuperation from foot surgery, I managed only short, slow walks in my neighborhood. One misty day, I found a maple leaf on the path. Sprinkles bubbled on its back. The contrast of the delicate drops and the rough ground caught my eye. I snapped a shot. My DALL-E mini attempt of the photo fell short. I substituted” rocket ship” for “leaf” in the text for fun and DID chuckle.

A spider spun furiously and draped a web in the corner of a window I planned to wash. The sun slanted just right, the depth of field blurred the busy background, I focused and snapped. The AI web image came close to mine, but I preferred the original. When I included the word “pizza” in the text I imagined a pizza slice trapped like a fly in the web. DALL-E and I weren’t likeminded.

Experimenting with a selfie, I instructed AI to form the image “head and shoulders of a woman wearing red sunglasses and a straw hat.” One of them is in the “style of a cartoon” and the other is in the “style of Picasso.” Although all three appealed to me for different reasons, the selfie was favored.

Everyday Epiphany

What my photos have that the DALL-E generated images don’t, are my memories and my passion.

I felt mirth while sand sifted between my toes upon stumbling across the “joy” message.

I remembered the struggle to regain my stamina in the rainy day leaf photo.

The industry of the spider stopped my window washing endeavors. I paused to admire its handiwork. My spider web image reminded me to pause more often.

The selfie with my “running joke” of borrowed red Hornito sunglasses (You had to be there.) warmed me with thoughts of friends’ laughter.

Doesn’t art created by humans reflect the passion behind the brush or chisel or wheel? AI is amazing in its own way, but doesn’t it lack passion?

In my not extensive research, I found that the invention of the camera and art of photography had been criticized. It was thought to be the downfall of “real art.”

It will take time for AI generated images to be accepted. Right now I appreciated Unartificial Intelligence.

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