Every new mass-production technology, from earliest agrarianism to computerized milling machines, has caused a tectonic shift in labor. That’s just a fact, however tragic the results have been to human laborers. (I’ll get back to that in a moment.)
But never before has a mass-production technology been used to replace human creativity. The arts are a creative expression uniquely human. Machine art simply scans those creative works and remixes them, passing them off as something new.
Mass production is all fine and good when it relieves humans of tedious labor and creates uniform products easily repaired or replaced. Neither of those ethically applies to art. Art is neither tedious nor easily replaced.
Businesses who treat it as such take a historical disdain for human suffering and lack of responsibility for the newly poor to a new level. They rob the race not only of its livelihoods (which they could ease by retraining their “Human Resources”), but now of its very soul.
The thievery is especially obvious in AI writing, which includes scans of pirated works posted here and there on the Net. The AI learns from works it never paid for.
In my experience, publishers have always been chintzy in terms of writing and illustration, with the excuse that “There are plenty of other creatives out there who would kill for this work.” With unpaid AI art, they and the AI companies who take their money carry this unethical philistinism to a new low.
AI art as a human tool, fine. Not every artist uses paintbrush or writing pen. But the sources drawn from deserve to be paid in turn. We don’t steal paint and ink, for god’s sake!
As beneficial as the Industrial Age has been to humankind in general, it has also made us callous toward suffering that isn’t right under our noses. The wealthier the nose, the further the distance and greater the callousness.
I suppose it shouldn’t be any surprise that the soullessness of that distance has bred a soullessness toward the arts as anything more than a commodity.
It does, however, make us a little less human with each passing moment. A little more like unfeeling machines.