ICYMI: Is AI art causing future shock, or age-old economic anxiety?
"Remember, this was before TV, and just as radio was getting off the ground. Film productions were novelty shorts in a world of vaudeville and live theatre, musicals, opera, and dance," said M L Clark for Only Sky Media. "So how did one make money as a creator? Well, in part through royalties off live performance, and in part by selling the music directly, to a market of households that usually had at least one person who could play an instrument or sing. But if someone figured out how to bypass purchasing sheet music, on a mass scale? Well, then they’d be affecting music publishers’ profits, and by extension the artists. How would creators survive, if no one was paying for their work?"
"Sheet music is still a niche industry today, but technology over the last 120 years has routinely required creators (and their capitalists) to rethink how they’ll get paid from making art. In the 1980s, blank audio cassettes gave us homemade mixtapes, and the music industry fought hard against the practice, while radio stations cut over song intros and endings to foil recording attempts. In the 2000s, file-sharing platforms like Napster became the scourge of most musicians, and a lot more of their income started to ride on concert and merchandise sales."
"What’s the solution? Not playing into the narrative of inevitable loss. Not making the same, determinist mistake that stories like Guns, Germs, & Steel invite us to assume. Yes, historically, people of greater means and hardier resources very often and quite devastatingly wielded new technology and its innovations against one another.
But that was always a human choice, not an inevitable outcome.
Giving into 'replacement' or 'oppression' myths around AI is simply a way of offloading that choice to our creations. Some humans choose to use advanced technologies to dehumanize others. Others don’t.
And still others recognize that, wherever new technology stands ready to supplant some aspect of human industry, it behooves us to respond by building more robust political innovations to match. The tech isn’t the problem. Our civic failure to grow along with it is. Only by surmounting that failure—instead of trying to turn back the clock on invention—can we ever ensure that humans will still be able to support themselves, and each other, as we transition into all our strange new worlds ahead."