I posted about technology taking our jobs in the arts. Butts In Seats has another example of automation in the arts:
[W]hat happens when we abdicate our aesthetic judgment to technology? Via Tyler Cohen’s Marginal Revolution blog, is a link to a prototype camera that rates the aesthetics of the picture you are about to take. Move the camera around to different angles to improve the percentage to achieve a better picture. According to the Today and Tomorrow web page, right now the camera, Nadia, communicates via Bluetooth with a Mac that does all the evaluating. The camera was created as something of a statement about the artistic experience, but you know it won’t be long before someone develops this as a feature for digital cameras. I’ll bet they get it linked up with Google Maps to automatically create notes about the best place for tourists to stand in relation to monuments.
From that, it's not hard to extrapolate out to, for instance, a camera that, when pointed at a painting, rates its aesthetic merits. Granted, this prototype camera has a huge advantage in the fact that it is working within a particular realm -- realism -- but why not.
Still, I have a feeling that when we automate our criticism, it's going to look a lot less like Nadia and a lot more like FiveThirtyEight.org. Instead of hiring an expert to sit and put a highly subjective opinion that may not be accurate -- why not invite an advance audience of randomly selected people -- say, through a contest -- and simply have a snap poll?
After all, film already does this with research screenings. Why not simply release the numbers?
Rotten Tomatoes is already a step in that direction; it stands on the theory that people in aggregate have a more accurate understanding of a film's merit than any single critic. And for newspapers with shrinking budgets, it's much easier to hire someone to simply hand out forms and count results than to hire Frank Rich or Roger Ebert.
It's enough to make you grab your pitchfork and cry out, "Dey dook er JAWBS!"