Putting the Art in Artificial: Aesthetic Responses to Computer-Generated Art

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As artificial intelligence (AI) technology increasingly becomes a feature of everyday life, it is important to understand how creative acts, regarded as uniquely human, can be valued if produced by a machine. The current studies sought to investigate how observers respond to works of visual art created either by humans or by computers. Study 1 tested observers’ ability to discriminate between computer-generated and man-made art, and then examined how categorization of art works impacted on perceived aesthetic value, revealing a bias against computer-generated art. In Study 2 this bias was reproduced in the context of robotic art; however, it was found to be reversed when observers were given the opportunity to see robotic artists in action. These findings reveal an explicit prejudice against computer-generated art, driven largely by the kind of art observers believe computer algorithms are capable of producing. These prejudices can be overridden in circumstances in which observers are able to infer anthropomorphic characteristics in the computer programs, a finding which has implications for the future of artistic AI.

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