Will we all become artists in a high-tech world? - RSA Comment - RSA

Will we all become artists in a high-tech world?


  • Arts and culture
  • Business and entrepreneurship
  • Technology
  • Work and employment

Algorithms and AI solutions could spark a surge in creativity, both personal and across a range of business sectors, argues Nikki Camilleri.

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I remember the moment I finished reading what is still one of my favourite pieces of work, the same moment I truly realised my passion and desire to work with artists. As a young teenager, I was reading a commencement speech by Karl Paulnack, pianist and director of the music division at the Boston Conservatory. He compared musicians to doctors (the profession my older sister happened to pick) and spoke about how, in a similar way to doctors saving lives, music keeps people whole and able to continue with their lives.

Music, he suggested, helps us comprehend with our hearts what we often can’t with our words. While this played nicely into our sisterly squabbles, it had a much more profound impact on me.

Paulnack explained artists’ role in society and music's sheer necessity to mankind so eloquently that I fell in love, there and then, with the idea of being able to support artists and play a part in this… and on to work in the creative industries I went.

Peace in our time?

A few years ago, I heard someone refer to my lifetime today as being in 'peacetime’, a period name I quite liked the sound of. Thinking about that label now, we can agree there is no physical war herein the UK. However, it is a label that I am not so sure I can accept as wholeheartedly as I did back then, having been a few years shy of the catastrophic realisations we face today – the ongoing war in Ukraine, climate change and pandemics, among others.

This understandably prompts the mind to thoughts of our future as a society and what that may look like. The author Yuval Noah Harari in his book, ‘Homo Deus’, discusses his perceived idea of our future existence and work ecosystems. Harari speculates on a world full of advanced technology, so much so that it overtakes many of our industries:

He writes: “In a world where computers replace doctors, drivers, teachers and even landlords, everyone would become an artist.”

There will always be a place for the unquantifiable beauty that stems from human hearts and souls. ‘Roxanne’ by The Police would not be the same without Sting’s laugh and accidental piano knock intro

Nikki Camilleri

Empowering creativity

While initially this may seem scary (particularly if you are a doctor, driver, teacher or landlord without much artistic acumen), the principal message is not that of people becoming redundant to algorithms and AI solutions, but the immense opportunity this provides to empower people to be more creative by removing labour-intensive processes. Imagine the inventions we would come up with – in business and technology, as well as in what are traditionally considered the ‘creative sectors'.

Although there is already advanced technology that, for example, can replicate and create music in the style of Mozart, there will always be a place for the unquantifiable beauty that stems from human hearts and souls. ‘Roxanne’ by The Police would not be the same without Sting’s laugh and accidental piano knock intro – a beautiful human error.

However, this is bigger than just the creative industries; each sector in itself will become creative. Is a new working piece of software or business start-up, while obviously different, not equally creative in comparison to a new written story or painting?

It falls to us to use our advancements to eliminate boundaries to entry, automate labour-intensive processes and give time back to the creators. If we succeed, we won’t have to look too far to find ourselves among artists.

Nikki Camilleri is a music and creative industries professional and is currently head of music and media at Beatchain.

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