The Art of Artificial Intelligence

The Art of Artificial Intelligence

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On October 24, 2018, the first auctioned portrait generated by an algorithm sold for $425,000 to an anonymous buyer. The art world immediately picked sides, with esteemed art critic Jerry Saltz referring to it only as “a poster.”

The AI artwork was created by a trio of French programmers calling themselves Obvious. They used a widely-adopted, open-source machine learning algorithm called GAN, into which they fed around 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries. From these thousands of pieces, the algorithm generated its own masterpiece entitled, “Edmond de Belamy, from La Famille de Belamy.”

We were curious to see how the people from outside the art world felt about this painting.The results were pretty surprising:

What We Found

We targeted 1000 people from our panel of more than 1.3 million consumers.

Do you think that a painting generated by artificial intelligence is art?

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These results might worry some artists, but using digital technology to generate creative ideas is by no means new. David Bowie used an algorithm to generate ideas for song lyrics. A growing host of visual artists use artificial intelligence, deep learning, or neural networks in their practice, some using the same exact learning algorithms leveraged by Obvious.

But what about those who said they don’t consider AI art to be real art? Suzy retargeted those 350 skeptics and asked them to pick out the one AI-generated painting from a group of four.


Which of these things is not like the others?

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Less than a third of those surveyed correctly pinpointed the AI-generated piece.

But then what would the AI art doubters think when they learned that they were incorrect?

Suzy™ retargeted everyone who got the above question wrong if they might be in the market for some algorithm art:

You incorrectly guessed which painting was done by AI. Knowing this, if there were a service that created a detailed profile of your artistic taste so as to create one-of-a-kind custom artwork for you, how likely would you be to try it out?

57% of former algorithm-art doubters — people who just minutes earlier held the opinion that computer-generated art is not, in fact, art — said they would be interested in their own bespoke computer-generated painting.

Suzy Says

Personalization will be one of the driving market forces in the years to come. As artificial intelligence and 3D-printing become more advanced and ubiquitous, consumers will expect a higher degree of personalization fidelity in the art, fashion, and design they patronize.

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Looking to reach your target market more effectively? Contact us for a demo.


Meet Suzy™

A consumer insights platform that helps you gather information on what your potential customers care about, so you can make the right decisions for your business, product, or service.

Suzy is a better, faster way to conduct market research at the click of a button – like having a focus group right in your pocket.