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The Death of Creativity

December 20, 2023

By Kirsten Nicole

Unsplash Photo by Igor Omilaev

I'm sure you are familiar with artificial intelligence (AI), ChatGPT and the little text suggestions that pop up on your email. AI has slowly been creeping into the writing world for a while now, and has only increased since the release of ChatGPT in November 2022.

You can ask an AI bot to create a picture with certain subjects, in a certain style. AI can answer the phone. AI can chat with you on Facebook. AI can be the CEO of a company. AI can make you smile in a picture where you were scowling. All in a matter of moments.

And of course...AI can write.

While some may make the argument that a robot writer cannot write to the same caliber of beauty as a human writer, that is the ultimate goal. Otherwise, why would generative AI use real authors (without their consent, I might add) to learn how to write in specific styles and voices (Authors Guild)?

We have a morbid fascination with just how real, efficient, convenient, or helpful AI can be, yet an ethical question lurking beneath the surface is overlooked because it is "antiquated." A question like this could send us back to the Dark Ages, after all! Could stifle progress. Could prevent life-saving/enhancing technology from development.

But the age-old question remains: Just because we can do something, does that mean we should?

Reasonably, the answer is no. A bully has no right to take a kid's lunch money simply because he can. A car can go 120 mph in a 20 mph zone, but for obvious reasons, this would be unwise, dangerous, and illegal. A student can use ChatGPT to write an essay for school, but he shouldn't. Right?

That line is becoming increasingly fuzzy as people refuse to answer the question: just because we can, does it mean we should?

And from a secular worldview, it is an impossible question to answer because there is no standard for ethics outside of the Bible.

Within the standards of Scripture, however, we see that "might does not make right." Decisions should be weighed with two questions in mind:

1) Is it a sin issue?

2) How does it affect others? (Matthew 7:12; 1 Corinthians 8; 1 Corinthians 10:32).

And an unchecked use of generative AI for creative outlets has and is causing the death of creativity: a trait of and a blessing from God.

While it might not be a sin-issue, it certainly has a long-term negative effect on the one using it...and many other creative individuals.

Human beings are creative in a myriad of ways, be it problem solving, engineering, music, marketing, dance, medicine, leadership, human resourcing, graphic design, food service, writing....

And people become better at it the more consistently they have the freedom to play with creativity.

When an athlete does not exercise consistently, he cannot hope to compete with the utmost efficiency on the field. When a thought scholar does not exercise his brain, he cannot hope to become a better, more competent, deeper thinker. Creativity requires consistent exercise to become better and more efficient at it, and it could be argued, to enjoy it more.

And as dependence on AI for anything creative continues to grow, the need to exercise creativity will decrease.

AI robot writers will eventually be cheaper, quicker, and more efficient than human writers, artists, photographers, musicians....and humans will lose the capability as well as the blessing it is to create.

Creativity is a beautiful gift we can use to "mimic" the ultimate Creator and bring glory to Him through it. AI removes this gift from human hands and gives it over to the mechanical, the efficient, the convenient.

Further, God's creativity is the first thing we learn about His character in the Old Testament, and we see it manifest in the beauty all over His creation. AI seeks to turn this great blessing and divine character trait into a commodity that is quick, efficient, and entirely mundane. Not a gift, or a way of glorifying the ultimate Creator.

When something is quick and easy, it is not as valuable. For example, a hand-crafted, glass-blown vase is far more valuable than the same vase made by a machine on an assembly line. Why? Because of the time, effort, knowledge, skill, and beauty involved in the former. When AI can quickly turn out the same product of the same quality as a human, the efficiency degrades the beauty. It is easy to imagine in the not-too-distant future, young people to dismiss man-made creative beauty because "AI can do that faster and better."

Artificial intelligence IS attractive. It is strange. It is mysterious. It is incredible the speed, accuracy, and endlessness of this image we've created. But isn't the Lord all of those too and abundantly more so? Isn't the Lord beautiful, mysterious, deep beyond comprehension, lightning fast, accurate, perfect, and endless, and exceedingly more personal? Perhaps, rather than falling into the endless hole of an idol we have created, perhaps instead of becoming fascinated by the intricacies of a "god of the modern age," perhaps we should turn those attentions to discovering the deep and abounding vastness of our creative Creator, who has given us the incredible gift of creativity and the logic to consider the ethics...that question:

Just because we can, does it mean we should?


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