“AI” is the trending topic all around me. From engineers to artists, everyone is amazed at what AIs have been able to accomplish, and wonders if we will truly be replaced by AI. I was curious too, and did some research. Here are some of my thoughts.
- “What are large language models (LLMs) and how do they work?” – Short explanation about “Large Language Models” that ChatGPT is based on.
- “How Not To Destroy the World With AI – Professor Stuart Russell” – Update on the current state of AI research.
You’re listening to Sabbath Café Podcast Episode 125 – Demystifying AI.
This is a very complex topic. I’m only touching on the basics here. I’ll include helpful videos links along with the transcript at www.sabbathcafeblog.com. Now on to the podcast.
Hi everyone welcome to the Sabbath cafe podcast. in this episode I’m going to talk about something that is the hottest topic around. We’re going to talk about AI.
Recently a lot of people around me have been all over this topic. The academia and general public love ChatGPT. They’re very impressed by it. Wow. You type in this descriptor of what you’re looking for, and in a second or two, ChatGPT will put together this paper for you. So the academia world have been very impressed and also very alarmed – understandably.
And it’s also a trending topic with the artists and creators. People want to know if AI can really take our place in making “art.” And just how using AI will affect us as content creators in general. Since I have a tech background, and I’m also an artist, I thought I’d share some thoughts on this topic.
So first, let’s take a quick look at what AI really is. AI stands for “artificial intelligence.” I know AI seem very impressive to everyone…. But, “Artificial intelligence” is simply a sophisticated computer program that combines the power of a huge database with statistics and probabilities. So it can come up with the most likely answer or behavior that matches your request. AI doesn’t create out of thin air. It doesn’t “create” the way that we do. Because at it core, AI programs are still just machines that process data – lots of data – and putting them together in a pattern that is most likely to fit your goal.
Now don’t get me wrong, these AI programs are amazingly complex, and what they’re able to do, is really impressive. And that’s why it often gives the people the wrong idea that programs like ChatGPT must be really smart or experienced because a real person would have to be smart and experienced to do the same thing.
But that’s simply not true. ChatGPT is not an expert of Shakespeare literature simply because it can give you a paper in Shakespeare’s style. It simply analyzed Shakespearean text, found common words and patterns, and generated a paper that matched those patterns. Ultimately, it couldn’t understand the love between Romeo and Juliet…it has no idea what love feels like. Similarly, an AI “art” generator may be able to put out an image that looks pretty to some, but AI doesn’t understand what beauty is – until someone defined it in their database. Computers are excellent at finding patterns and copying them… but it doesn’t think, process or feel like a real person.
The artificial intelligence program cannot make anything new. It needs information or data that someone else has already created… so they can analyze it and learn the pattern. So mainly I think of an AI program like a fancy tool. And the “AI art” engines are really image generators. And I feel like they’re kind of an automated Photoshop program… a “smart” Photoshop program.
And the tool to me is simply a tool. The problem comes up when we as people start to depend on the tool to do the work that we are supposed to do.
I recently saw a short video where this little boy – probably in elementary school- went to his room to do math homework. And when his mom went to check in on him, she found out that he was secretly asking Alexa for the answers to his math homework. So he was whispering to Alexa: “what is 54 – 27” (or something like that) and Alexa would whisper back the answer to the math problem. And when I saw it, it just dawned on me… this was the perfect illustration.
I’m sure this little boy was thinking… why does he need to learn math and do these stupid math problems when he can simply ask Alexa for the answer. I’m sure we all wondered when we were young why we needed to learn math when we have calculators. But what he didn’t realize was that the purpose of his homework was not about getting the right answer. It was to help him understand and learn the basics skills in math and problem solving. Ironically, these simple skills are the basic building blocks to making a complex machine like Alexa.
In a similar way, as we start to engage these AI tools all around us, I feel like we also have to be careful why and how we use them. What are we trying to accomplish? We have to be careful not to sacrifice and give up our own learning and creative process along the way.
Lately I’ve been learning to focus more on my creative process instead of focusing on the end result. And in my studio time, I often start just by playing around and experimenting colors and styles, and mediums. In the process, I’ve learned so much just about technique and styles. And most importantly, this play time has done wonders to stir up creative new ideas. The result of these experiments weren’t always pretty. But I’ve been learning so much just from this organic process.
Learning and creating anything is hard work. And it can be very tempting to use AI as a short cut. But as we move forward, I think we have to be careful to guard our own learning process and not to “contract” that out to a computer program. At the end of the day we have to remember that there’s no substitute for work… there’s no substitute for going through the learning process… in putting paint to paper… or putting words on a page. And no amount of AI can replace the good old creative process.
So I’m curious about some of your experiences with AI… with ChatGPT. And with some of these AI art generators. How has AI affected you? I love to hear about it.
And that’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. You can find resources and transcript for this episode at sabbathcafeblog.com. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to Sabbath Cafe Podcast on Apple or Spotify. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you next time.