‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep’ scares me, but probably not as much as DALL-E scares artists

ENGL 4110 “Commonplace Book” Entry 3

Philip K. Dick’s novel that inspired the movie Bladerunner sent me into a full existential crisis.

I could outline the background, the summary, the plot, or even the characters, but at the end of the day, the book isn’t about any of that. The book dares to ask: What does it mean to be human? And once you’ve got the answer to that: What does it matter?

In our present day and age, artificial intelligence is growing every day. Perhaps most recently, DALL-E is the most talked about modern software, having been released in 2021 with a second, imporved version scaled out in July 2022. The program is an AI system that can create realistic images and art from a description in natural language.

So basically, the program makes art. And whoever types the prompt in that makes the computer make the art, owns the art.

That’s a scary concept for artists. Because all of a sudden, there’s a bunch of generally really cool art that is made in seconds that now gets to compete with lifelong artists who spend hours on their craft.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? asks what it means to be authentic versus fake. DALL-E, just like the ‘andys’ of the novel, is blurring the line between those two ideas.

I don’t have the answers to any of the hard-hitting, philosophical questions. But I do know that as new technology emerges, literature is generally a good place to start when looking for meaning.

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