Workers’ fear of new artificial intelligence technology makes sense: that technology has the potential to eliminate their jobs. But if we didn’t live under capitalism, AI could be used to liberate us from drudgery rather than hurl us into poverty.
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Lately, I have been experimenting with artificial intelligence image-generating programs. Their power is astonishing. They’re not just good at the technical aspect of creating “art” but appear to be genuinely creative, producing works that not only match the competence of a highly skilled artist but that can be surprising, interesting, and even beautiful.
Of course, everything still depends on the human who is entering the prompt to tell the AI what to do. But nobody who sees these things in action can doubt that we’re entering a very strange new era in which a great deal that could be done by hand will soon be automated.
Many artists are up in arms about the new AI programs — and with good reason. Some are furious that their works have been used as training data without their permission. Others fear that corporate clients will simply turn to machines to do the work that used to be done by human hands. AI is causing the cost of image generation to plummet. In a capitalist economy, where everyone depends for survival on the value of their labor in the marketplace, a massive drop in the value of a skill will cause widespread suffering.