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Opinion: Will AI create what humans believe to be beautiful?

Nowadays, many, if not all, popular trends are led by the public. It may sound needless to say, but if AI in the future dominates the method by which humans create arts, the majority of the arts in the future would be created by AIs. By that, it is not that the common beauty is…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/pliao527/" target="_self">Zhipei Liao</a>

Zhipei Liao

September 24, 2021

Nowadays, many, if not all, popular trends are led by the public. It may sound needless to say, but if AI in the future dominates the method by which humans create arts, the majority of the arts in the future would be created by AIs. By that, it is not that the common beauty is accepted by the public. 

Artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is inarguably one of humanity’s most indelible focuses of the early twenty-first century. In the past decade, an AI developed by DeepMind technologies named AlphaGo won a series of matches against the top players in the game Go, according to NPR. Go is a game played on a board crosshatched by nineteen vertical and horizontal lines in which the aim is to surround more territory than one’s enemy.

While Go, due to the almost countless possible outcomes dependent upon individual player strategy, had previously been regarded as one of the least likely games at which AI could succeed, according to Business Insider, machine learning nonetheless enabled AlphaGo to quickly dominate its human opponents through its almost instantaneous processing of a trillion matches with itself and other players, according to Deepmind.

With their inherent advantage of calculation speed and mass data storage, AIs could manifest a more significant potential in fields that require extensive logical and analytical skills.  However, when it comes to arts, will cold, unfeeling machines be able to develop the ability to replicate, innovate and then comprehend the mysterious inspirations of human-created beauty?

To some, the answer might seem obvious: “no, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder (or by certain definitions, affected by the cultural condition.)” But, is beauty a highly subjective concept?

Many of us recognize similar preferences, such as sweet pastries and confections, or savory meat-laden recipes. And that is not merely a coincidence. We like sweet treats because of our need for carbohydrates and fat, according to Live Science; we like meat because we need protein for basic survival.

Long-lasting evolutionary developments have established many, if not all, human characteristics. Similarly, Darwin’s theory of sexual evolution, which primarily explained the seemingly superfluous features like peacock’s tails, illustrates the phenomena of species choosing mates solely by specific features, according to Denis Button’s TED talk.

Humans, despite our myriad complexities and evolutionary holdovers, follow that fundamental rule. Celebrities in Asian countries like China, Korea and Japan typically have considerable aesthetic similarities. Even though their chosen careers may differ, one thing seems to connect them all and ultimately spotlight them in public: their look.

These celebrities will most likely have an outstanding physical appearance that helps them generate a plethora of followers. AI, by using machine learning and a massive database and analyzing the trends of “preferred” faces, can create models of experimental faces, according to the New York Times interactive.

The directors of the AI project can then receive feedback on the faces by surveying individuals who are asked to judge the inherent attractiveness of the images produced. In the end, the feedback can be used to modify the experimental faces to manifest the characteristics that we like to see the most. 

Generating “good-looking” faces may be one of the potential objectives that can be accomplished by AIs. Many recent music genres from classical to hip-hop have been intruding upon domains of human artistry that were otherwise restricted to non-AI artists and creators gaining traces of AI composers, according to NBC News

These AI composers create wonderful music that not even many musicians can differentiate from a multitude of human-generated works, according to Futurism. Simply by analyzing the structure of pre-existing music and organizing the elements into different permutations, AI composers can often create musical pieces that sound just as appealing as any other popular music. 

Nonetheless, many people may disagree that beauty has solely one standard and has to be fixed for everyone because there are always people who just happen to prefer another option. It is undeniable that slightly different preferences are to be held by different people, but AIs can easily counter that by allowing those standards to be modified by their users, thus allowing the users to generate what they prefer the most. 

In recent society, as the rise of media and the internet has afforded the public greater access to information and different forms of arts; assimilation of the standards of beauty is insidiously occurring, according to U.S. Represented. The aggressive promotion of certain genres of arts in society is causing the precipitous decrement of the others, and consequently, the individuals who prefer those minority genres are increasingly to be isolated in their own group while becoming the target of the haughty subscribers of the former.

The tools of AI may therefore result in a world in which cultural variation is declining. When the cultural crossover results in a “uni culture” wherein acculturation create a uniformity across the globe and local variations are subsumed into the whole, or alternate preferences are devalued, then something is lost. 

Ultimately, maybe it is worthwhile to take a step back from thinking about how not to be conquered by AIs in the future, and instead focus on how we are different from them: the grasp of the ethereal beauty.