Will Bontrager
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AI-Generated Images for Book Illustrations

AI Software, a Tool I Use

As some of you know, I write software. I've been writing software for decades.

Something many people don't know is that pretty much all software is AI.

The key word in AI is "artificial".

Intelligence is, in essence, the ability to make decisions based on available information.

Software makes decisions by following rules given to it by humans. Humans make decisions using brains formed during the experience of life.

One is artificial intelligence. The other is human intelligence.

Soon after I got my first computer, about 40 years ago, I acquired a software title that responded to questions typed for it. It was so good, seemed so "natural", that a few people scattered among English-speaking regions of the world claimed their computer had human intelligence. The convinced folks declared the intelligence was real. They believed it as solidly as they believed trees grew out of the ground.

But believing it didn't make it true.

The software was named Eliza. The version I had was written in BASIC using less than 300 lines of code. The source code of the software was published in More BASIC Computer Games, page 60, published in 1980. (May need to enlarge the scan or make it full browser window to make it more readable.)

Let's get back to the present.

Two things are different nowadays than they were then, computation speed and available information.

Computation speed:  Computers are so fast now that they can do many thousands of computations in the time that they did one computation back in the early days. Because they are fast, they can be programmed to determine conclusions by considering thousands and thousands of variables instead of just the few they used to be able to.

Available information:  Information that can be made available to software is more than humans can possibly digest as individuals. Any information that is present on the internet can be (and is) made available to software for making determinations, as well as humongous stores of information in corporate and private databases. Image-generating and text-generating software that presently are often referred to as artificial intelligence make use of the huge amount of information that is available on the internet. The image generators mentioned in this AI Blog are examples. The text generators that some copywriters are in tumult over are other examples.

Those two things, speed and information availability, make software look smart, really smart. Yet, it is still artificial and it is still software. Just because people assume it has human-type intelligence doesn't make it true.

AI can be a powerful tool. Like any tool of wide consequence, there will be people making good use of it and people making bad use of it.

There have always been people who have used software for nefarious purposes. And people who have used software for humanity-enhancing purposes. That is unlikely to change.

As for myself, I use it to create images.

AI image creation tools are a boon for me because I may be the most untalented individual currently alive on the planet when it comes to using pen, pencil, or brush for artistic renderings of what I see in my mind. AI is a tool I can use to create images that I would not ever have hope to create without that tool.

This tool is exactly what I needed to illustrate my books.

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