A little over a year ago many of us who follow and critique technology were stuck debating the utility and impact of what would soon turn out to be the biggest boondoggles of the 21st century: NFTs. And yet during that brief period many people became obsessed by the idea that simply by creating thousands of uniquely ugly little gifs, they were going to get rich, prove the true value of the blockchain, and ultimately revolutionize and revitalize the digital art industry. In the end, none of those dreams came true.
Why do we need to “own” an NFT for a digital thing once you can generate thousands of alternate images that are entirely personal and unique? Why do we need to create artificial scarcity when AI gives us the ability to create as much as we need whenever we need it? Why would we want to keep pretending that we have less when we can suddenly make so much more?
The AI revolution of the last year may not have changed everything (yet) but it has certainly allowed us to shed the assumption that the future was going to feature a blockchain economy — whether you liked it or not.
There will always be things worth paying for and the cost of physical objects should always reflect the amount of craft that go into their construction. But with processes of manufacturing and tools for creation both evolving daily, AI will continue to accelerate the way we create and distribute content, allowing us to concept and realize ideas that are simultaneously more creative, efficient, and effective.
That revolution won’t end with tools like ChatGPT or Midjourney. With 3D printers becoming more accurate, reliable, and easier to use we’ll soon be able to use AI to speed up every link in the chain of the production process, allowing us to not only expand our creative canvas but rapidly transform ideas into reality.
AI-powered design solutions are becoming increasingly sophisticated, allowing us to create complex designs with ease. AI-driven design tools can analyze data and generate designs that are tailored to the user’s needs. This means that creators can quickly craft unique designs tailored to specific requirements, without having to spend hours (or days) doing it.
The days of “limited editions” and collectibles are already coming to an end as the walls between the virtual and real worlds are tumbling down faster and faster.
Since the mid-2010s, we’ve been locked in the technological box that ‘blockchain’ had built for us. Rather than building on genuine innovation the tech sector had become obsessed by the idea that we could somehow use a public database as a tool to completely marry finance and the internet. It was a grim fantasy that was always doomed to fail.
And yet, over a matter of months we have witnessed the fall of that entire model; NFTs are worthless, digital currency (with some exceptions) has been revealed to be a pump & dump scam, and the supposed “revolution” represented by Web3 has been exposed to be nothing more than an attempt to transform what was once a medium of communication into a fully extractive digital labor camp.
As AI advances, that creative canvas will expand as the boundaries between the virtual and real worlds continue to blur. That means the end of an era driven by scarcity and “collectibility”. And as it fades away, it will be replaced by a realm where AI empowers creators to ideate, deploy, and transform ideas rapidly. Instead a desert of artificial scarcity there will be and endless spring of more.
While there are concerns surrounding AI (some of them valid), there should be no doubt that this coming cornucopia of content holds real transformative potential. In a world where hype and fear have shrouded us in the darkness of uncertainty, AI can be a beacon of innovation. It holds out hope for a future where creativity, efficiency, and effectiveness can all seamlessly coexist.