Remember Hal? Anyone who's ever seen "2001: A Space Odyssey" may never forget "him," Hal, the only computer we know on a first-name basis.
For many of us, that name may be fear. Fear that computers are taking over our jobs, and not just the grunt work. There seems good reason to fear that as they grow ever smarter and more sophisticated, computers will also grow more and more human: sensitive, creative, actually capable of making original works of art.
Relax and fear not, say the scientists behind all such AI (artificial intelligence). Instead, realize that AI offers the artist something beyond an assistant or apprentice (traditional helpmates to art greats like daVinci and Rubens). Just look at the sheer drudgery computers and robots have already lifted off our easels and drawing boards with a variety of CAD programs.
Now AI offers what painter/professor Harold Cohen (UC San Diego) calls "a new creative collaborator." Since l973, Cohen has been collaborating with a computer program called AARON, which can make pictures autonomously. More recently, professor Simon Colton (Goldsmiths College, London) staged an exhibition at the Galerie Oberkampf in Paris, featuring works by a computer program known as "The Painting Fool" (it drew crowds and press coverage; no word about the wine and cheese).
And that's just the beginning. A quick look through scientific literature reveals a future teeming with dazzling, desirable, user-friendly new high-tech offerings, such as: