art by geralt
First, there’s the absence of timeliness. AIbots don’t need time, rest, inspiration or opportunity. They can crank out six hundred fifty words in a moment. It doesn’t make them interesting, and in all likelihood, the AIbot has plagerized other writing to generate the desired content. More in this case, is not better, it’s just more –the same as a dictionary has tons of words, but poetry comes from arrangement, connection, and feeling –a robot can arrange words, and algorhyms can ape connection –but the linking to human experience, remains a beauty gap. When we create art, even bad art, it reveals something of ourselves. But a Xerox machine, like an AI bot, can only copy, it can only imitate, it can only approximate –it cannot imagine into being something that includes something of the soul.
Creativity connects us to God, because God is the creator, the great artist, who imagined all of creation, all of us, throughout all of time, into being. We imitate God with our love of beauty, our desire to evoke a love in others by our creations, and our attention to detail that results in delight by others. An AI bot cannot be surprised by delight or take joy in others enjoying what it does…and that too, is part of the artistic experience.
This weekend, my school hosted Rock the Block and as has become tradition for me over the years, I painted faces. I’ve done this for my own children’s school, for my first job, and for the local summerfest. Somewhere in the process of applying grease paint to children’s faces, I forget that it’s hot or that I’m on my knees, because the painting becomes the thing. Seeing them smile at the spiderman web or lightning bolt or cat whiskers, that’s something of their joy in receiving the art. Forgetting time, heat and self, that’s the joy of creating, of doing. Art, be it words or paint or video, is not product, but the result of process. So for three hours, I forgot about all but process.
If we want a better world, we need to remember that life is not a product but a process –and the time when we forget ourselves, that is the best use of our time. I’ve not been writing as of late, in part because all of my time is so fragmented. What I found with not writing, was a vague sense of forgetting myself that wasn’t from losing myself in the process. Whole days passed and without writing, those memories didn’t get preserved. I thought of the smiles on those faces, I wanted those to remain, just like I wanted my youngest son’s very personal response to the movies we’ve seen preserved. He shook his head at Ariel deciding to sign with Ursula. Paul teared up when she cried as Prince Eric declared he would marry the sea witch in disguise, and when she finally attacked King Triton, he cried out, “No!”
Paul knocks on my door every day, “Hey Mom.” and when I tell him I’m up, he says, “Okay Mom.” and goes off to find his outfit for the morning. It doesn’t matter that I woke him up first, it’s his routine. Wish he wouldn’t do it on Saturday, but there’s a joy in knowing, he cares about such things. These are memories that otherwise get lost in the many minutes we spend being busy –scheduling doctor appointments, grocery shopping, doing dishes, planning the next thing. So I will try to make it part of every day, even if it seems like nothing big happened, because the little things, are often more important than the epic moments.
Then I came home and every bone ached, my skin felt sticky, and I thought my brain would never think again. A bath, bowl of soup, brownie and three large tumblers of water later, and I could lose at a game of hearts with my kids. However, the brain still wasn’t online for thinking. At those moments, an AI bot would be useful –when the brain feels dried up from the day. Except I’ve read AI poetry –and it lacks. Form is correct. Traditional imagery is correct. It’s boring because it cannot suprirse. It can only imitate. It may even get routine down, but only Paul can make his daily knocking on the door a surprise despite being expected.
Only humans can make routine and process, something more meaningful than outcome.
Only we can through the doing, forget ourselves, and find something worth remembering. AI bots can’t forget, so they can’t determine what should be preserved. The only way to explain why we should be wary of AI bots has nothing to do with jobs or the economy or security. It has to do with knowing that there’s something of infinite value in the perfect imperfection of a child with down syndrome. It has to do with being able to be surprised by joy, by beauty that is lovely without being perfect. That’s how you know.