Paintings Group: Art, Authorship, and AI: For good or ill?

How might AI help or hinder us in the arts?

AI brings huge change - what might it mean for us?

Dr Nicholas Eastaugh:

Working regularly as I do on authenticity and attribution questions from a scientific perspective, undoubtedly the biggest change that I’ve seen take place over the last few years has to be the introduction of artificial intelligence. Whether we are aware of it or not, as art scientists, conservators, and art historians, we are going to be increasingly required to engage with all manner of data involving AI, with the need to understand and evaluate it, and the need to explain it to our colleagues and clients. Should we be welcoming or fearing this? Whichever way you personally look at it, as with life more broadly, the ‘algorithm’ is soon going to be widely manifest in our professional daily experience.

In this talk I want to share some of my own journey, from sceptic to critically informed user. Beginning from ideas I developed around how to use historical information about materials to pin down when and where paintings were created, I want to introduce some of the new AI approaches that are starting to shape my strategy when dealing with questioned paintings.

But while this new thinking is opening up radical possibilities, there is also a real risk of getting things horribly wrong. Therefore, this talk will also be a guide for the perplexed, pointing out good practice from pitfall. To this end, the presentation will be decidedly non-technical, and copiously illustrated with real-life case studies. We will look at how AI can be integrated into our decision-making, as well as the questions you need to ask to avoid the snake-oil.