Ana Santos Aramburo, director of the National Library of Spain.
We already know how it works: neither did television end the cinemas, nor e-books with paper books, nor zoom classes with classrooms. But the appearance of artificial intelligence in the field of artistic creation reawakens the voices of the apocalyptic. Can a program like ChatGPT put together a literary text if we give it the proper coordinates, imitating magical realism writers, for example? Can you create a drawing “a la Picasso” or compose the lyrics of a song with the same charge of emotion as a person? Will artistic works as they are currently conceived disappear?
With a million users in less than a week, this platform opened the debate, because artificial intelligence not only writes programming codes, but can also write essays, compose videos, create a logo and countless tasks in a few seconds, with results more or less achieved.
In the midst of this debate, Ana Santos Aramburo, director of the National Library of Spain, who has been in charge of that institution for ten years and has launched an interesting process of digitizing its content, spoke with Infobae on the subject.
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-There is, through artificial intelligence, the possibility that a computer intervenes in the process of creating a text, even trying to write a literary work, as happened recently with an essay in the GPT system, which made a poem ” in the manner of García Lorca”. Will artificial intelligence mark a before and after in writing or will it be necessary to continue counting on the human component in the creation of a book?
-Undoubtedly, artificial intelligence is going to change many things and it will be, in fact it already is, a turning point when it comes to composing written texts. But I have no doubt that people will have to continue counting, not only to continue “feeding” the machines but also to determine their training standards in which ethical values must prevail, which, obviously, they lack a machine.
-If this process advances and is perfected, will it have an impact in any way on the future of books? Could it become a threat to the writing profession?
-More than a threat it can be a challenge. Machines don’t actually create texts, but use texts written by people to compose their own, so you necessarily have to have large amounts of data and content to do so. If at some point the creative capacity of human beings disappeared, the potential of AI would be very limited and the parallelism that any artistic or literary current should have with the society of its time would disappear. However, I do believe that it will have an impact on the writing of other types of texts such as technical writings, reports or even academic or school texts that, after being reviewed by human intelligence, can provide a wider variety of content and even the possibility that these are contemplated in different ways.
ChatGPT. An artificial intelligence model that is easy to communicate with. (Unsplash)
-As the director of one of the most important national libraries, how do you think artificial intelligence could impact the process of classifying and storing information?
– He certainly will. The technical process of the materials that enter a library is one of the most expensive that is carried out in a library. On the other hand, bibliographic catalogs contain a large amount of standardized information, which can facilitate the task of processing and classifying the documents that enter a library. Although we do not know when it will take place, because these developments are directly related to the economic benefit that they can produce and perhaps in this field they are not profitable in the early stages.
-The book on paper has already shown -like the cinema in front of the TV- that it retains its faithful followers. Do you think that there is an important generational component to this issue or that many of the young readers will continue to be faithful to the book object?
-I think that the book as an object is liked by all generations, it is immersed in our collective imagination as something perfect for reading; in fact, since the codex replaced the scroll as a writing medium around the 3rd century, no better format has been found for reading. The book on paper is also an object of beauty, both in its typographical composition and in its illustrations and in its design, which is why, in addition to the pleasure of reading, it provides aesthetic joy and, therefore, emotion and enjoyment increase.
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-You mentioned in a recent interview that reading statistics and book sales numbers have increased in Spain. Is this phenomenon somehow related to the Covid19 pandemic and the post-pandemic? Do you think that there is a kind of greening of culture and artistic manifestations in general (concerts, visits to museums) as has historically happened after major crises?
-Of course during the pandemic, and especially during confinement, reading rates increased a lot and the publishing industry experienced significant growth. Perhaps before that surprising and unexpected emotional impact, we needed to look for answers. And what better way to look for them than to take refuge in the creative capacity of the human being and find beauty. This not only provides us with aesthetic enjoyment but also ideas and knowledge, which leads us to reflect and helps us understand situations. In the worst moments of our life we seek comfort and that is provided by the fact of contemplating the world from the most sublime: the human being’s capacity for creation.
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