Computing Craft

Ned Ludd was reportedly an English weaver who in 1779 destroyed two weaving frames in a fit of rage against the introduction of weaving machines. His action inspired a group of skilled craftsmen who rebelled against the industrial revolution that was spreading across the world in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars. They feared the loss of skilled work with humans becoming nothing more than slaves to machines. Over the past three hundred years the term Luddites has been applied to anyone who opposes new technologies in general. The battle still rages. 

Computer intelligence is evolving rapidly and is not restricted to industrial design, manufacturing or playing chess. Computers are composing music, creating visual art and even writing stories. Most of it is of poor quality right now but who knows what we will see in the future. 

Will human crafted art always have a place and be a sustainable occupation? Will computer generated music take over the charts, ever changing digitally generated art panels hang on our walls and computer crafted novels dominate the bestsellers lists? 

The best way to cultivate craft is for the artist to build a relationship with their audience. If there is no real human element to art, highly refined machine generated art forms may be indistinguishable from those generated by humans. But will the machines be able to generate an artist persona that interacts over social media and perhaps even have a robotic humanoid form that can perform on stage or show up at book signings? 

I should refrain from writing after watching the new Star Wars movie but perhaps it's time to start thinking about reviving Ned's movement.

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