Can Artificial Intelligence Help Us Paint?

January, 2019

There is no question that innovations in technology have influenced the painting industry. These developments have improved safety, efficiency and productivity across the industry. In the back-office we are better equipped with new, cloud-based, business applications, and on the client facing side we also have advanced color matching tools, safer paints and better equipment. I’m not sure any of this can be called “Artificial Intelligence”.

In the art world, Christie’s Auction House recently auctioned off a painting that was created using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The painting (if that is what it’s

Prana Skiing, 2019

called) sold for $432,500. I guess this quantifies the value of AI in the art market. But like many other items, like homes and cars, the value of a piece of original art is only limited by how much a patron will pay. Can a price that high be typical? I don’t think we have enough data to answer this yet. It might be a unique instance.

Computers are better than humans at many things, but I’m not convinced that painting is one of them. Follow the link below and take a look for yourself. However, I appreciate that despite being created with Artificial Intelligence it still requires creativity on the part of the programmer to develop the algorithm. That kind of imagination and vision is impressive. Is this a new medium for the artist and a new phase in the evolution of art? Also, in regard to the auction price, does the algorithm itself have a value? Perhaps the buyer also acquired the rights to the algorithm?

You may look at the artwork and read more about it here.

In other recent AI news, Waymo is preparing to test fully autonomous vehicles on the streets of Silicon Valley. Some aren’t convinced that we are ready for this, but the Department of Motor Vehicles has given its approval. Most of the time I trust the computer. In my own car I welcome my adaptive cruise control as it tracks the car in front of me and maintains a safe distance. It also helps keep me in my lane and warns me not to change lanes if it sees a car in my blind spot. It doesn’t drive for me, and I still need to pay attention, but I can see how it improves safety. It’s like another set of eyes watching out for me.

It’s a natural progression from cruise control to autonomous vehicles. But I still think humans make better painters.

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