October 06, 2012
Computer Algorithms To Replace Art Critics?

Categorization of great art can be done by special computer software

Southfield, MI - - Understanding and evaluating art has widely been considered as a task meant for humans, until now. Computer scientists Lior Shamir and Jane Tarakhovsky of Lawrence Technological University in Michigan tackled the question "can machines understand art?" The results were very surprising. In fact, an algorithm has been developed that demonstrates computers are able to "understand" art in a fashion very similar to how art historians perform their analysis, mimicking the perception of expert art critiques.

Was this fully an exercise in software development to create the classification algorithms? Or was a machine learning system doing most of the work? Imagine a literary critic machine learning system that can tell you which books you'll like. It would be much harder to game than Amazon reader reviews. One could get trusted reviews of books. Plus. authors could test their books against the machine learning system to find out whether they've written something with sufficient appeal.

High Renaissance, Baroque, and other categories were identified by the computer program.

In the experiment, published in the recent issue of ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, the researchers used approximately 1,000 paintings of 34 well-known artists, and let the computer algorithm analyze the similarity between them based solely on the visual content of the paintings, and without any human guidance. Surprisingly, the computer provided a network of similarities between painters that is largely in agreement with the perception of art historians.

The analysis showed that the computer was clearly able to identify the differences between classical realism and modern artistic styles, and automatically separated the painters into two groups, 18 classical painters and 16 modern painters. Inside these two broad groups the computer identified sub-groups of painters that were part of the same artistic movements. For instance, the computer automatically placed the High Renaissance artists Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo very close to each other. The Baroque painters Vermeer, Rubens and Rembrandt were also clustered together by the algorithm, showing that the computer automatically identified that these painters share similar artistic styles.

Steve Pearlstein argues for continued low productivity growth in service industries. But my expectation is that computer software will become powerful enough to replace many kinds of professional workers.

No matter how innovative people were in coming up with new technology and new ways of organizing their work, Baumol and Bowen reasoned, it would still take a pianist the same 23 minutes to play a Mozart sonata, a barber 20 minutes to cut the hair of the average customer and a first-grade teacher 12 minutes to read her class “Green Eggs and Ham.” Based on this observation, the duo predicted that the cost of education and health care would inevitably outstrip the price of almost everything else.

The kids could interact with an AI that shows up in a hologram. A robotic hair cutting system could cut your hair with 10 pairs of scissors in a few minutes. Well, you might watch a human play a piano. But if you do not need to watch why not have a computer play it?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 October 06 10:33 PM  AI Service Provision

PacRim Jim said at October 7, 2012 1:19 AM:

Computer software bloggers?

Alpha Male said at October 7, 2012 4:55 AM:

call me when a machine can make art as good as Dali...

Fat Man said at October 7, 2012 10:14 AM:

Here is everything you need to know about modern art:

"Cleaner bins rubbish bag artwork" http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/entertainment/arts/3604278.stm

A bag of rubbish that was part of a Tate Britain work of art has been accidentally thrown away by a cleaner. The bag filled with discarded paper and cardboard was part of a work by Gustav Metzger, said to demonstrate the "finite existence" of art. It was thrown away by a cleaner at the London gallery, which subsequently retrieved the damaged bag. The 78-year-old artist replaced it with a new bag. The gallery would not reveal whether he would be compensated.

* * *

The gallery said the work is now covered over at night so it cannot be removed again, and staff have been made aware that the rubbish bag is part of the exhibit.

* * *

It is not the first time such a mistake has been made. In 2001 a cleaner at a London's Eyestorm Gallery gallery cleared away an installation by artist Damien Hirst, having mistaken it for a pile of rubbish. The collection of beer bottles, coffee cups and overflowing ashtrays was said to represent the chaos of an artist's studio.

And in the 1980s the work of Joseph Beuys, which featured a very dirty bath, was scrubbed clean by a gallery worker in Germany.

Randall Parker said at October 7, 2012 4:09 PM:

PacRim Jim,

I need to develop a machine learning algorithm to identify which news articles to post about. It could learn off my history of posts.

Fat Man,

Art has deteriorated. Or, rather, art critics have deteriorated leading them to support trash as art. This demonstrates the need for computer software to replace pathetic art critics.

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