Embracing Amateurism in the Face of AI

As Chat-GPT and other machine learning models make it easier to generate text and art, I wrote in praise of doing something yourself, even if you do it badly, in Deseret.

When you choose to be bad at something, you get to experience the joy of being an amateur in the classical sense.

Today, “amateur” tends to mean “someone who isn’t good enough at something to be paid for it,” but its root is in the Latin amare, which means “to love.” An amateur works on a skill because she loves something about how grappling with the problem changes her.

An amateur birdwatcher has a new sense of who his neighbors are, even if he still scares off most of the birds with his footfalls. An amateur artist scrutinizes the planes of a face until the familiar seems strange, even if the resulting drawing is likewise strange. An amateur martial artist can’t win a fight yet, but she’s discovered new ways her body can move.

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