One of the longstanding worries about the technologies of artificial intelligence is that they will enable surveillance, autocracy and maybe even totalitarianism. These views no longer seem so convincing. The world’s autocratic states are not exactly turning these technologies to their advantage, and meanwhile artificial intelligence is taking some individualistic turns.
Consider the program called DALL-E, which allows the user to generate digital sketches and images, derived from natural language instructions, using the power of artificial intelligence. The quality and diversity of the images is truly impressive. It is like having a world-class team of illustrators at your disposal.
DALL-E (the name is a portmanteau of the painter Salvador Dali and the movie WALL-E) remains the property of OpenAI, but its use is spreading and of course the basic technology will be copied and adapted. There is now an open source version of DALL-E.
First and foremost, DALL-E is a tool for boosting individual creativity, not autocracy. People and small enterprises will have many more ways to make images and tell stories. This kind of AI will boost decentralization, not control.