Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

This is where we gather reoccurring questions that come up as we begin/continue the Slow Internet tour in a variety of virtual and physical spaces.

Why are you using AI-generated art?

In creating this, we could have jumped on bandwagons transporting well-known outrage, like dismay against “screens” and upset against algorithms that “steal jobs” – particularly those associated with creating. We haven’t taken this route. We haven’t written a single negative word against hardware as a whole or hated on “tech” in general. This choice comes from how we understand technology – as muscle for all human desires. Constructive and destructive wants alike. Take the pen as an example of a technology – it can be used to propagate for war or sign a peace treaty. What technology becomes to us, how it shapes our world, comes back to intention, ownership and incentive design – along with how well we design feedback loops to course-correct unintended consequences.

In short, we’ve created this as eutopians – as people who aren’t reactionists but advocate for actions and values that can lead us to better worlds than the ones our species has lived in thus far. For creatives, throughout recorded human history, that’s a world that’s been quite awful. Only a miniscule portion of the people interested in creating for a living have ever been able to live like that. In the years just before the generative AI breakthrough, even if we’re looking only at the richest countries in the world, almost no one with artistic talent could pursue an art education. And out of those who were given that rare opportunity, less than 10% ended up making a living as artists after graduation.

To romanticise that dire state of affairs, to cling to meagre opportunities, is a studied response to scarcity. When one has very little, it’s easy to fall into desperate safeguarding of those tiny resources – instead of investing in a plan that would end the scarcity. What we’re seeing when screenwriters and artists of all kinds advocate for less AI in their respective fields is an example of exactly that way of acting and reacting. Fighting for the scraps one has grown used to instead of focusing on changes that would result in a long-term solution that would upend the experienced scarcity altogether.

What defines a society is how value – meaning all the things humans need and like – is produced and distributed. Automation is changing the way value is produced. An aspect of this is that different tasks are being automated at different moments – with some machines, like dishwashers and robots on assembly lines, in operation for decades, and AI just starting to reach agentic levels, where they can both create, command and organise like only humans have been able to before. The economic incentives for full automation of value production are in place. What’s not present is, however, another scheme for the distribution of the value created. Meaning, rather than people getting their needs met from wages, one can conceive of many other ways. From robot taxes and UBI to states buying bonds in the tech companies that own the means of AI production, and once those bonds reach a certain value, begin distributing a dividend among their citizens. Other routes include public or private investments in agritech, with the goal of automating self-sufficiency so far that it provides citizens with a leisurely way to live and flourish even in the most remote locations.

These are topics Corin covers in upcoming books, that are too big to elaborate on here, but this is certain: Any meaningful shifts in our shift-heavy era are all far cries from the desperate and shortsighted attempt to block out AI art and its likes in order to safeguard what honestly is an abhorrent current-day construction where a living must be earned and an artist ought to be artistic on their free time, or buckle down and accept economic hardship as the prize to pay for being in the arts at all.

A last aspect worth mentioning when it comes to the automation of art specifically is what it’s meant so far to have the skills of skilful artists available mainly to those who have been able to pay for their services. In short, beauty has padded and protected every proverbial overlord. From dictators blowing up their likenesses as intimidating statues, to Apple stores designed in a way that makes customers feel a little dirtier and lesser, who has access to the aesthetics required to canonise someone or something is deeply consequential for how legitimacy is constructed. To suddenly democratise not only the means of media production but of beauty could enable an era where people who’ve never had their stories told – not widely, and certainly not with perfect lighting and artisan script craft – can access a level of movie magic that previously required multimillion-dollar investments. To gatekeep that to make sure a few creatives are getting paid wages is simply missing the more compelling plot at play here: the one where humans can do what they want to instead of what they’re forced to for their imminent survival.

So yes, we’re using AI art, and we’re doing it in the pursuit, not of momentary clout, but actual emancipation.