Exploring the Psychological Consequences of Reliance on AI Art Generators like ChatGPT, Midjourne and Dall-E2 and exploring possible solutions
If my idiot monkey brain is correct, we are bound to experience a mental health crisis soon, caused by AIs. We are currently experiencing the meaning crisis as philosopher John Vervaeke has pointed out in his work: 9 to 6 meaningless work that leads to nothing of palpable substance, a lack of community and brotherhood, a lack of purpose, and even the absence of god (you can roll your eyes, but it is true). But if we really examine ourselves, most actions we have taken in history are to find that meaningful fulfillment that we feel in the pit of our stomach.
One primary act we partake in, in order to have that sense of meaning was and is creating art, be it writing, painting or photography, or whatever! Before we spoke we drew on the cave walls and danced and tried to beautify ourselves in our tribes. Look at Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Spain, it has been under construction for 140 years and is still not finished, as the architect thought: You know, I am going to build a church that is going to take about 200 years to finish.
What can possibly explain that? The grandness of the idea gave him and others involved so much meaning that a few generations have passed, and artists are still coming to be part of it.
Stay with me now… we getting to the AI-caused depression in a bit
Now, the creative act of art is an extremely joyful experience (though sometimes frustratingly painful) maybe, but it is rewarding, nevertheless.
Here is a rough breakdown of the human process of creating art.
Conception: Developing an initial idea or inspiration for the piece.
Planning: Sketching out ideas and gathering reference materials.
Execution: Selecting materials and tools, setting up a workspace, and beginning to work on the piece.
Creative block: at some point, you will hit a block that will halt your progress.
THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT****: Finding solutions to roadblocks or challenges that arise during the creative process.
Refinement: Making adjustments and refinements to the composition and other elements.
Completion: Finishing the piece and preparing it for display or sale.
This entire journey that an artist goes through can put him in the flow state, the state where you are hyper-focused on what you are doing and lose track of time. When you feel the challenge matches your skillset just enough to not be overwhelmed and you find joy in what you are doing.
The artist then hits a roadblock in the middle of the process, and that stops him but if he is lucky, he will find the solution and BAM… we have our LIGHTBULB Moment. This is the most enjoyable part of the journey.
A "lightbulb moment," or the experience of suddenly having an insight or realization that helps to solve a problem or answer a question, is thought to be the result of a process known as "perceptual synthesis." Perceptual synthesis is the brain's ability to combine and integrate different pieces of information in order to create a new understanding or insight.
During this process, the brain may also release certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, which are involved in the experience of pleasure and reward. This may contribute to the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that is often associated with having a lightbulb moment. Now, this is what an artist goes through to find that feeling of fulfillment.
But what does this have to do with AI?”
Two amazing Ais that can generate any kind of artwork or photograph by just a few words you give them
and ChatGPT a scary brilliant Ai that can write anything from HTML code to short stories or even academic essays.
These are all brilliant creations by brilliant people, but it needs to be leashed and retrained. Where does the flow state go in relation to art created by the AI for the people? What happens to the lightbulb moment and the sense of discovery we get from that? Where do our sense of fulfillment and meaning go? I am not being a romantic here, where does it go and what will happen to us when we don’t have it????
Me and my friends from different artistic background have been on these AIs for the past few months, it is addicting how fast everything pops up in frot of our faces and how little thinking we have to do to set it up. But we all experienced the same feeling which you might too. An empty form of tiredness.
In our experience, Flow State morphed into its negative form, similarly to the feeling of “Doom scrolling” or searching for a particular thing on google for too long without a proper conclusion. Writing in one prompt after another for the AI and being fed what it gives you, as it gives you one perfect finished piece based on your words, provides no proper or real satisfaction. Every piece is a perfect piece, a complete piece… but not really what you want. You might not even feel it belongs to you, cause a part of you knows you didn't really create it. You told Michelangelo what to do, you might have even been specific about it but really… Michelangelo does what Michelangelo does and even sings it in a way, so others know, he made it.
The lightbulb moment of the art process is pretty much nonexistent here unless you find a new prompt or a better way to articulate yourself but because the result is still not created by you, it would not feel as good, if it was. This will have negative effects on us and future artists if we do not restrain it and channel it in a proper way. Especially Gen Zs who are already using the AI like ChatGPT to write an essay rather than forming their own thoughts.Besides the wonderful job our Social media has done for our Human communication and the mental illnesses that followed them, we are potentially damaging a whole group who might not ever truly understand the process of creation and exploration and finding meaning for themselves in Art.
Now the question arises as to what we can do as to make AI art just as much meaningful while inducing the flow state and all the good that comes with it.
One solution that comes to me is to build mandatory systems to ask users for higher participation in the process rather than them just being the end receiver of the final piece after just typing in the order and slowing down on the delivery. This does beat the purpose to a great degree, and many people may not like this delayed gratification. But that creates participation, which can then involve the flow state and all the other goodness that comes with it. By prompting the user to be active in piecing the work together, for example starting with the painting’s eyes first and asking the user to talk about certain details or features they wish to be there and moving from there to other sections, we might avoid some of the potential problems.
Another solution can be to hold the artists who use AI to a different standard. To actually hold artists accountable as to why exactly the use of such a powerful tool was needed? AI is pretty much like a genie that can make you as good as Leonardo Da Vinci, so there better be a good reason and story that the artist wants to communicate that requires the use of such a powerful tool that he could not have done it otherwise. By doing that, we have at least established a high and firm standard that an artist needs to hold himself up to.
I do not intend to be bleak, but so far every innovation or platform we have had, we have done little to restrain it. I fear for the future. I fear with our instant gratification culture, artists and writers whose AI works are being published, and pack the future culture with meaninglessness. Unlike what we have done with social media, where we only saw their effect when it was too late, we have to examine the AIs now under the microscope of meaning, and well-being, and mental health and put measurements before we deal with its dire consequences.