AI: Artificial Imagination?

My initial apprehension about the rise of AI and its potential to replace human creativity and effort.
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Created by Disha Ransingh

Published on May 23, 2024
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I have never used AI.

Technology, in my house, is a very limited resource. Not because there is a limited amount of it, but because it is encouraged that we live real lives rather than virtual ones - a fact for which I am occasionally very grateful.

Besides that, it is much more satisfying to me to learn and create things on my own in the 'real world'. 

However, AI, or Artificial Intelligence, is a tool that is being used more and more in our world. This and the real-life stories of AI use have piqued my interest.

I remember hearing how a family friend spent hours on ChatGPT. He asked it questions. It responded. He gave it prompts. It came up with resolutions.

He told it to write a novel. It did.

For a fleeting moment, I was afraid.

Technology, in my mind, has always been simply a tool, a fast way to communicate or research, but nothing further that that. The thought that it could become something more was, well, terrifying. Not because of the reasons that a person might think, either.

When people associate AI with fear, their minds go to movies such as The Matrix, or characters like Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Artificial Intelligence gone rogue, technology taking over, humanity no longer at the top of the food chain.

But I was not afraid of what technology would do.

I was afraid of what humans wouldn't do.

I know myself. I know that if I have to choose between quality and convenience, I will choose convenience nine times out of ten. We are a culture that advertises convenience; we live for luxury in all its forms. We stare at screens watching the adventures of people who don't exist, rather than live adventures with people who do. We pick up the phone because it's too hard to talk in person - and, more often than not, text because we're too anxious to call.

Now, this mechanical tool is elevated to a new level. Not only will it likely shorten our conversations and limit our efforts, but it will also solve many of our problems.

I'd use it. I mean, who wouldn't? You could just tell it, 'write me a piece about_____' or 'put together an article on _______'. Suddenly, all the difficulties of creativity are gone.

That is what terrified me the most.

But then I remembered why I love writing, and creating. Because it's cathartic. Because it's an adventure. Because it's satisfying.

I love creating because what I create is mine.

No matter the convenience of AI, I would never use it to cheat myself of the victory of looking at something beautiful and thinking, I made that. It simply wouldn't be worth it.

This family friend of mine - the one who was experimenting with ChatGPT - was not happy with the novel it had written.

He changed some of the characters' names. He played with the plot until he felt it fit. He fixed up all the millions of commas put there by technology.

Despite the cleverness of AI, he still had to edit.

Artificial Intelligence is not Artificial Imagination. It cannot live. It cannot think. It cannot feel. It can mimic thought and emotion - but only within the parameters it has been given.

And, as I have realized, there is no formula for any of these things. 

I believe that imagination is a key component of life. Without the ability to create something, in some form, we would not be living. Alive, maybe, but not living. We would simply be following instructions, mimicking something someone else did.

AI may reshuffle the world as we know it.

It may be used to cheat, or lie, or do all our work for us.

But it is my firm belief that as long as people are living, we will create. Words, sculptures, artworks, masterpieces. It is a need that must be satisfied within us. And as long as people create, AI will still be a tool.

And we will be what it never can be: living.

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