AI-generated rethinking of authenticity

In jan  2024, it was revealed that Drake and The Weeknd did not release a track that became viral on TikTok or YouTube. The photo that won a photography competition in the same month was not a real picture. The image of Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga Jacket in March 2023 was also a fake. This was also a hoax.

The new technology, which can create humanlike audio, text, and images, was used to generate the results.

It’s unsettling how easily fakes dupe people. I think it is a sign of a crisis in authenticity that raises difficult questions.

Authenticity is also important because it strengthens social trust. Consider the misinformation crisis on social media, where fake news was spread inadvertently, and real information was declared fake.

Shortly, authenticity is important, both for individuals and society at large.

What makes something authentic?

In a series of studies, psychologist George Newman explored this question. He discovered that authenticity has three main dimensions.

The first is the historical authenticity of an object, which is whether it is really from the period, place, and person that someone claims. A painting by Rembrandt that was actually made would be considered authentic, but a modern fake would not.

Another dimension of authenticity can be seen when a restaurant, for example, in Japan, offers an exceptional and authentic Neapolitan Pizza. The pizza they serve was not imported or made in Naples. It is possible that the chef who made it has no Italian blood. The ingredients, taste, and appearance may be very similar to what tourists expect at a top restaurant in Naples. Newman calls this categorical authenticity.

Authenticity is a result of our values and beliefs. Many voters are disappointed by politicians who claim to be one thing but act another way. Admissions officers are looking for this in college essays.

In the research I did on my own, I also found that authenticity is related to what we expect of tools and activities involved in creating something.

When you see custom furniture that is claimed to be made by hand, you may assume it was not. You might think that modern tools were used to shape, cut, and attach the pieces. If an architect uses software to create building plans, you will likely still consider the product legitimate and original. It’s because people understand that these tools are necessary to develop the effects.

We assume that when a piece is advertised as being handmade, tools are used. Arterra/Universal Images Group through Getty Images

You don’t usually consider these dimensions when you make quick decisions about authenticity. With generative AI, you’ll need to.

It’s because, back in the day, when it was difficult to create original content, it was assumed that only skilled people could do it. They believed that they had to put in a great deal of effort to make it.

There are no safe assumptions anymore.

The looming authenticity crisis

Generative AI thrives by exploiting people’s dependence on categorical accuracy, producing material that appears to be “the real thing.”

It’s important to separate historical and categorical accuracy in your thinking. It does not matter if a recording is exactly what Drake would have sounded like – that it matches the expectations of Drake’s genre – if Drake recorded. It is possible that the great essay submitted for a college assignment was not written by a student who spent hours crafting sentences on a word processing program.

It is important to remember that if it walks and quacks just like a real duck, it might not have hatched out of an egg.

Everyone must understand what these new generative AI software tools can and cannot do. This will require that AI is taught in schools and at work, as well as having open discussions about how the creative process will change when AI becomes widely available.

In the future, students will no longer have to form every sentence meticulously; they can now use tools to help them come up with new ways of expressing their ideas. It doesn’t take Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator mastery to create a stunning picture.

In a world in which AI is used as a tool by society, it will be necessary to think about how to set up guardrails. They could be in the form of rules or norms that are created within specific fields to disclose how and when AI is used.

Is AI credited for co-authorship on written work? Does it not work on certain documents or at certain grades in school? Do you need a signed declaration from the artist to enter a piece of artwork into a contest? Do we need new competitions to invite AI-generated art specifically specifically?

These questions are difficult. It is tempting to consider generative AI as an unaccepted aid in the same manner that calculators in math classes are prohibited.

Sequestering technology can limit the creative potential of humans. If photography was deemed to be an unfair use of technology, would images have the same expressive power as they do now? What if Pixar movies were disqualified from the Academy Awards due to people believing that computer animation tools undermined authenticity?

Many have been surprised by the capabilities of generative artificial intelligence, and it will force everyone to think differently. Humans can use AI in order to push the boundaries of what’s possible and produce interesting, valuable, and authentic works of writing, art, and design.

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