Fighting against AI makes me wonder what it means to be human

From healthcare to customer support and from finance to spell-checking, AI is ripping through every industry imaginable like wildfire. In one field in particular, though, AI is getting a huge amount of pushback. And maybe for good reason: Robots were built to do work, and humans are wired for making art, not the other way around.

Artists are fighting back. The Coalition for Human Artist Protection (CHAP) launched its “Real Art Isn’t Artificial” campaign, highlighting that while artists have been early adopters of tools and technologies for as long as there have been tools and technologies, the current generation of tech is threatening to replace the artists in some fields. Some startups are training AIs just on licenced images, an academic research project is fighting so-called “art mimicry,” and the recent writer’s strike laid some of the groundwork for how negotiations around AI use may be part of work contracts in the future.


All of this is interesting, but I’m finding myself wondering about something far more fundamental. What is art, and why are we so damn upset that the robots are now making it? The question takes me into the “what does it mean to be human?” territory pretty quickly.