Is this the End of Creativity?

Whenever someone new comes into my house they are always impressed with the unique pieces of furniture I have designed and made. Of course, I am thankful for the compliment and I would love to take full credit for each of the pieces. But the truth is I can’t say that I completely designed it on my own. The reason I say that is because of the years that I have spent reading books, collecting magazines, and looking at countless images on the internet. I even have labeled folders stuffed with pictures from old magazines. When I am in a creative mood, I look at the images, certain features, or elements of a piece of furniture and then I made a note or drawing in my sketchbook. So in other words, everything I have designed has, in one way or another, been from something that I have mentally seen and stored away in my memory. And I think it’s fair to say, nothing is ever truly new, we all just seem to put our own twist on it. But recently I discovered something new that could be an incredibly helpful tool, or it could become a disabling crutch that I lean on.

For the past few months, I have been playing with ChatGPT. It’s an incredible AI program. It has proven very useful. For example; if I am looking for the right word to describe something, if I should need help to make an outline for a presentation, or if I want it to completely write an article, it could do it for me. So I got to wondering……. Could it design a piece of furniture?

I wanted to see its knowledge of furniture itself so I gave it one simple sentence. I said, “Design an Asian-influenced table.” Immediately it gave two pages of information about Asian-style furniture. It talked about the types of wood, methods of joinery, and features commonly found on Asian tables. So I copied this information and opened another program.

The second program I used was called Mid-Journey. This is a graphic arts drawing program. But the unique thing about this program is you simply type in what you want and the program draws it for you. So with this capability, I right-clicked and pasted the information ChatGPT gave me, and within seconds it produced the table that you now see.

Now there are a few things that look a little odd about it. But overall I am extremely impressed! The size, proportions, and features all look nice. I am truly excited about this and the things it can help me do. I’m curious if I gave it a better description, such as; design an Asian-style table with slightly curved legs, a round foot, drawers with applied moldings, and a chamfered top with stringed inlay, I wonder…… will it draw something close to what I am thinking or will it be something completely different and new?

Now instead of going through countless books, magazines, and scrolling for ideas online, I can give suggestions to AI and it can help me create something truly unique and original. This could save me multiple hours trying to design a drawing for my customer only for them to say, “Mmmmm it’s okay, what else do you have?” Currently, I can spend several days coming up with different drawings to satisfy a customer. But now this tool can help me be creative and save me time. But then a scary thought occurred to me.

Right now, I see this program as a means to give me suggestions and new ideas to add to my own thoughts. But what if the day comes that I just decide to let it do all the designing and I simply let AI do everything? Would I get so complacent that I wouldn’t even bother to give my input and just totally rely on AI? Perhaps I won’t. Maybe I’ll always trust my own instincts. But will the majority of others feel the same? Are we looking at a generation where we solely rely on AI to do the creating for us, and worst yet, after AI creates the piece do we then take full credit for it as if we designed it? 

I’m going to continue to see how this works and I will post further articles on this subject. But I hope AI won’t replace our own thoughts and ideas and we use it to make ourselves better people and not lazier ones.

Chad Stanton- Stanton Fine Furniture 6-11-2023

5 Responses

  1. Creativity is something unique to humans. Ask AI to write a book in the style of Shakespeare or paint a picture in the style of Da Vinci and it can do both but they will not be have the attraction of either. AI can only take what is already known and jumble it together. Creativity produces something never seen or heard before because it is the product of a personality, a mood, a vision or an impression that only the creator experiences. AI is a nice tool but the human mind, the creation of God cannot be replicated. The table is nice but it doesn’t stir an emotion and looks more like a hodgepodge of techniques. Just an opinion.

  2. I don’t believe we have anything to fear from AI itself. We do have a lot to fear from people misusing or abusing AI to the detriment of competition.

  3. Completely not interested in what AI can do for me in my woodworking shop. I know that sounds harsh, but I’m old (74) and not tech-savvy.

  4. I am in this craft for the fun and enjoyment it brings to me. I see a design and think.. Yes, I like that. And with that picture in my mind, I will make to my or a customers proportions, with ‘Tweaks’ I do not own or intend to use a CNC machine. If you are a business and time constraints, or need multiples. I see you have a need. AI has been in the news quite a lot lately with people voicing concerns. I’m one of them.

  5. For as helpful as AI may become, I don’t see a day in the next generations where it will completely replace the inquisitiveness, creativity, inquiry, testing, re-generation of new concepts, designs, or imagination. It currently relies on direction, instructions, parameters, and output constraints. Even Star Trek’s cyborgs rely on a host human. B.U.T…..I’m old enough to also recognize the exponential speed with which science has evolved. So, what do I really know! 🙂 Hopefully, man will find it a useful tool and not a means by which to eliminate human instincts and creativity.

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