A few years ago, NFTs (non-fungible tokens) were hailed as the next big thing. Artists and creators could create artificial scarcity for their works and get rich. For some, the concept worked. For most, it didn’t. They just added to the existing content glut.
Today, a new technology rattles everyone’s cage: Artificial Intelligence. Well, not new, exactly. AI has been around for years, but it’s never been as accessible as it is now. The creator culture has exploded.
Artists and writers with limited skills and talent are leveraging platforms like Dall-E and ChatGPT to flood the marketplace with mediocre art and writing. Where is this content glut taking us? How will it affect the art market? Will collections suddenly become worth less money? Will the content on our websites become lost in a sea of mediocrity? Maybe, for a time. But eventually, quality art and writing will win the day, and the value of our collections will be vindicated.
AI: Tool or Crutch?
AI artwork and content, in the hands of an artist, is a productivity tool. But it is a crutch for the uninspired. Uninspired work is produced for quantity rather than quality, like fast food. Don’t get me wrong; there’s a place for fast food, evidenced by the glut of it along our highways. But it’s hard to savor an overcooked hamburger. Savoring a steak, though, is easy for me. AI has made it easy to create digital images, but there is something special about physical art that digital can never replicate. Physical artworks evoke emotion and admiration that can only be found in tangible pieces. They can be savored. Good writing can be savored, too. A distinct voice can capture our imaginations and offer new insights.
Content Glut: A Natural Part of Evolution
If you’re concerned about the health of the arts, there’s little reason to think of AI as a threat. It’s just a natural evolution of technology. Using tech to increase productivity isn’t new. Michelangelo used brushes, but Picasso and Dali used lithography, and Andreas Gursky’s palate is photography. Poe wrote with a pen, but Hemingway used a typewriter, and Stephen King uses a computer. Technology evolves, but technology doesn’t create art. Art is found in the soul of an artist. Tech is just a productivity tool.
Now that AI is pervasive, it’s inevitable that creators will find ways to use it in their work. The world as we know it isn’t doomed—it’s just changing and adapting to new technology. The legal and ethical questions surrounding AI content will take a while to sort out. Meanwhile, we must sort through the glut to find what is worthwhile—just as with NFTs.
Will Seippel is the CEO and founder of WorthPoint®, the world’s largest provider of information about art, antiques, and collectibles. An Inc. 500 Company, WorthPoint is used by individuals and organizations seeking credible valuations on everything from cameras to coins. WorthPoint counts the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, and the IRS among its clients.