16 Feb Created, Replicated or Simulated: Navigating the Nuances of the law, artificial intelligence, and artistic practice
Historically, the intellectual rights to an original creative work have been vested in the artist – the creator. However, as the field of artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly sophisticated and incorporated into our daily lives, the very notion of what constitutes a ‘creator’’ has been called into question.
Computers are already playing a significant role in creative pursuits such as music, design, fine arts and architecture. But as the sub-field of ‘Computational Creativity’ emerges, it is possible for software to not only act as the means, but also the mind behind poems, pictures, and music. But at what point does the creator of the software or the person imputing data relinquish their authorship of the work? And when they do, is the computer the owner of the work? I would ask the reader to consider the following scenarios:
Scenario 1: You put paint into a woodchipper. The machine spits the paint on a canvas set up before it. The canvas is displayed in a gallery and sold for $1,000. Who owns the artwork – you or the woodchipper?
Scenario 2: You put wooden blocks into the woodchipper – the woodchipper, programmed by AI software, whittles the blocks into intricate sculptures. The sculptures are displayed in the local park. Who is credited on the plaque- is it you, or the woodchipper, or the person or people who created the software?
Whilst these are oversimplified analogies, the question remains the same – who owns the intellectual property rights to work designed by AI?
The substantive question is not so profoundly philosophical as whether or not AI can be granted legal personhood – technology is far from having the capacity for independent thought (despite its power to seemingly drain humans of their own such capacity). But rather, a matter of ascertaining the implications of shared authorship due to the nature of AI and the increased complexity of human contribution. This will mean a significant paradigm shift in the way we think about art and artists. We have grown attached to the idea of singular authorship because it supports the romantic notion of individual creative genius. However, in the new world of clicks, code and content sharing, the indicators of ownership are becoming less and less obvious.
The good (albeit slightly ironic) news is that the introduction of machine learning as an artistic tool seems to have actually increased the amount of human involvement instead of decreasing it. Each human involved in building the layers upon layers of software solutions is a potential candidate for authorial credit. SO what are the key takeaways here?
- AI can be a valuable tool for creators of all kinds
- Yes, there is such a thing as computational creativity
- No, it is not likely that art galleries of the future will be filled with AI generated robo-art that has no human input.