What is art?
Now there are all kinds of meaningless philosophical answers to this question. "Art is whatever you say it is" or "Art is beauty". If you dig into these answers, you just end up with the tautology "Art is art". That's true, mind you, but not very helpful. However, the music conductor had a very good answer to the question, and he accepted Chris' application when Chris understood the answer.
Art is expression.
When I heard the answer, it really resonated with me. That's a real answer, not a tautology! The purpose of art is for the artist to convey a point to those people experiencing the art. That means art can be measured by two factors:
- How important the point is to the audience
- How well the audience understands the point
Type 1: "This black square set against a mess of orange and red circles represents the current triumph of humanity against nature, but the ultimate futility of the struggle." While that might be a good point, it's not particularly novel, and the point isn't conveyed very well. Other artists have done a much better job of creating works that express this point without even intending to. Fundamentally I feel like this art exists so that art snobs can feel elitist, because they "understand" the point and other people don't. But obfuscating your point doesn't make you clever; it makes you a bad artist.
Type 2: "This black square set against a mess of orange and red circles doesn't represent anything because art doesn't need to have a point. It can mean anything and everything!" In that case, the artist isn't expressing anything at all. They are doing an exceptional job of doing nothing. It's not art because it's not expressing a real point.
This doesn't mean art needs to be hyper-realistic. Reality isn't as fuzzy as the impressionistic paintings Monet did of water lilies, yet millions of people from different cultures and backgrounds have all recognized the beauty of that artwork. The true test of art is not whether its point is realistic, but whether the point has been successfully conveyed to the audience.
With that as the framework, I'd like to talk about something different from Artificial Intelligence: the writing of this column. You might notice that I express a lot of stuff in layman's terms, glossing over details, sometimes going back to them and sometimes not. It's my goal that this column will never require more than a first year undergraduate's experience to understand. That's explicitly because it's crucial that people can understand what I'm writing. If I can't explain things simply, then I'm not doing my job as a writer.
Each week I pick a topic that might be interesting. This column is partially just a personal soap box-- I talk about things I find interesting and usually I relate it to AI. But I cannot escape the purpose of art, that art is only meaningful to the extent that your audience cares. So I want to get a better understand about what topics and styles you, the reader, appreciate the most. It's my job to write about things you want to read.
I analyzed the articles I've written and they fall into one of four categories:
- Technical discussions of exactly how an algorithm works. Discusses actual code.
- Overview discussions of how to approach an algorithm. Discusses situations that would require programming, but not actual code.
- Reflections on artificial intelligence and computer science in the abstract. Discussion relates to philosophy.
- Philosophical discussions. Usually relates to intelligence, may or may not relate to artificial intelligence.