From Laces to AI – The Connection

While researching the ups and downs of AI (Artifician Intelligence), I stumbled on this cool youtube video which makes the connections between 17th century automated lace making, creativity and AI. If you are old enough to remember the excellent “Connections” PBS TV serie produced by BBC and hosted by James Burkes, you will enjoy this history review video by the historian, Phil Edwards.

In this video, Phil examines the origin of what can be the ancestor of computer programming, the moment artisanal lace making was replaced by lace producing machinery. Using Jacquard Cards (IE: Programmable punch cards) , a lace producing machine could help manufacture hight quality lace without interruption, with greater precision and at a much lower cost. It obviously killed the “artisan” lace making industry in the process. Well, this of AI as a machine capable to mimiking anything a human can do, but with infinite better advantages. One specific aspect of AI I found alarming, especially about AI used in creativity.

For example, if I copied a Disney owned image and present it as my own creation, I would obviously breach Disney’s copyrights for that image. But if I used that same Disney image to train my AI model, the copyright of that image will disappear in the process, while the description and features of the image are learned by the AI.

It then becomes virtually impossible to trace back all the little bits learned to build the training model back to its origin. Proof of origin cannot be demonstrated and copyright is therfor lost. I prefer the word “stolen” rather than “lost”. But the impact on the artists, in this case Disney, remains the same. Disney copyright lawyers will need build a copyright violation AI detection engine to be able to have any leverage in their claims. As a more visual example, imagine an AI neural network which use Disney images for its training model. Then the AI operator could simply ask the AI to generate a realistic character of a young red hair woman in the “style” of Disney, and the result would be astoundingly close to an actualy Disney creation, but without actually violating Disney’s intellectual property.

Music, books, movies, actor’s body of work, voices, images, paintings, sculptures … everything can be used to train an AI model and the artist’s creation used to train an AI model are not compensated adequatly or “at all” for that matter, and will be replaced by artificial machinery once the body of artistic knowledge has been digested by AI training models and turnined into data-sets.

As I explore the facinating world of AI, I will write more articles about that topic, but the suject is so vast that it requires a lot of research and fact finding. Stand by for more!

Meanwhile, here are a few interesting Youtube videos which discusses the topic of artificial intelligent vis-à-vis creativity. Enjoy.


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