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Rishi Sunak, AI, and The Decline of The Arts

Siena Stott discusses how politics, art and artificial intelligence cross over... Can AI ever be as creative as humans? And for those in the creative industry, will it and can it take our jobs?

Rishi Sunak thinks artists and musicians “should retrain and find other jobs”.

There was uproar on Twitter and across the internet in response to Sunak’s ignorance. As Tim Burgess said “The arts aren’t a luxurious hobby, Rishi Sunak. They’re a lifeline for millions” and Ravi Somaiya saying “Nobody remembers Renaissance accountants”. Sunak’s idea of adapting career is just abandoning passion and skill-set entirely. The problem won’t dissipate, it’ll just move.

What kind of country would be now if we didn’t have The Beatles or Amy Winehouse? Tourism in Liverpool and Camden wouldn’t be anywhere as big. What about if Tracey Emin or David Hockney just made art a hobby? Our galleries wouldn’t be what they were today. Sunak would rather sacrifice the future of culture for capitalism.

This millionaire man also wants to implement Baccalaureate meaning you have to study maths up until age 18. Are three A-Level subjects not stressful enough?

I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until age 15, but maths and chemistry were always a huge struggle (we’re talking tears and sleepless nights). I agree having a good grasp with numbers can be helpful overall, but only 50% of my maths GCSE was beneficial to me. If I wanted to pursue a maths related career I would’ve chosen the appropriate A-Levels and University degree.

Age 16 was stressful having so many subjects to choose from that will narrow down your career path from there. However, he’s not giving these 16-year-olds enough credit. By the age of 16 you already have a clear idea of what you’re good at and, more importantly, what you’re passionate about. This new plan to make maths compulsory is going to have a negative ripple effect. An extra subject will distract from the other subjects, and could cause lower grades overall, therefore making the number of University applicants fall, and possibly cumulatively making homelessness and unemployment even worse. Plus , there’s the added conflict of the current education sector. Teacher’s simply aren’t being paid enough, and if this doesn’t change soon then there won’t be enough maths teachers to support the execution of this new proposal.

Each year the Arts sector has had funding cut. I’ve donated some of my taxed earnings to Grassroots campaigns to save venues – but the government should be doing this. So where are my taxes going? Certainly not all going toward the NHS or fixing potholes. Instead, into unnecessary causes and funding a surveillant society and technological advances such as AI and other job-replacing initiatives.

We are becoming too lazy with AI (e.g. Dalî, Midjourney) and chat GPT. Devoid of emotion. Creative industries are suffused with expressions and opinions about the world that we have no way to channel otherwise. We can’t afford to be soulless and money-motivated in this climate of increasing anxiety surrounding homelessness, climate change, and mental health crises. Diversity in jobs should be encouraged to stop overcrowding and promote more employment.

What’s a country of bankers going to offer to our future generations? And not to mention the agitation and depression that’ll arise from that. People should do what they want to do. People should vote for who they want to vote for. We live in a democracy, but people are thinking too much and being strategic in their every decision. There’s no originality or opinion in our own lives anymore and the UK is in a crisis under Sunak’s government. Removing the right to strike, curriculum changes, tackling homelessness with unempathetic tactics, proposing a digital currency.

As a creative copywriter, I’ve been asked if my career feels threatened by ChatGPT. But I refuse to back down from my career to a robot. Technology cannot experience emotional motivations, insightful knowledge and life experience. Some university students are now using ChatGPT their essays. This only contributes to the perception of our generation as ‘snowflakes’.

Us creatives aren’t scared of our own ambition, and unlike the Tory government we don’t seek immediate gratification in terms of career. We are happy to work hard until we get to where we want to be. That way we can sustain a work life balance with the integral happiness that’ll keep us off NHS mental health waiting lists. I have a lot of friends in bands and they’re all absolutely amazing. I’m happy to pay my fiver to see them live and show support. They’re not headlining Glastonbury just yet, but they’re patient and passionate. It’s a cyclical society about helping give each other a leg up. Sunak has completely misunderstood the next generation of workers and our aspirations. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our jobs aren’t our lives. Furlough was lovely – I’ll thank the Tories for that. But they can’t expect us to go back to being desk monkeys. We can work remotely, travel, experience, and balance our lives’ better. What we can’t do is afford to retrain, study without income, and still face the same uncertainty and employment competition that we did before 2019.

There’s a video where Rishi Sunak visits a shelter and asks a homeless man if he’s ever considered banking. Where are the stepping stones between getting off the street and getting a job, Rishi? Why is there not a policy in place allowing those without a home address to get a job? These are the questions that the Tory government need to start coming up with answers to, and stop misplacing pressure on sectors such as the arts. With thousands of vacancies in the hospitality and retail sectors since COVID-19, there are jobs that need to be filled. The incessant snobbery from the rich and powerful about what they deem to be a viable career that contributes to society is causing our society to fail. At the end of the day we need to celebrate our uniqueness and diversity of skills. We weren’t all born to sit at desks and wear suits. It’s time to prioritise having a job to live, not just survive.


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