Abracadabra Artificial Intelligence? Or NYC Magic Code Broken?

Magic has always been a popular form of entertainment in New York City, with its rich history of iconic magicians and famous magic shows including Harry Houdini himself who had his base in this magic city of Manhattan. However, in recent times, a new controversy has arisen among magicians regarding the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in their acts. Some believe that AI can bring a new level of wonder and excitement to magic performances, while others argue that it goes against the ethics of the art.

At the forefront of this debate is the “Ask AI Guy,” a former filmmaker, marketer, and a New Yorker since 1988, has been using AI in his mentalism and magic acts. On the “Ask AI Guy” website there is a delving in on this “AI is Magic?” topic. The “Ask AI Guy” argues that AI can enhance the experience for audiences by allowing them to witness seemingly impossible feats, such as predicting someone’s thoughts or emotions. However, the “Ask AI Guy” also points out that some magicians are concerned that using AI in this way could be seen as cheating or taking away from the craft of traditional magic.

The question that arises is where does AI end and magic entertainment begin? Many traditional magicians believe that the art of magic is about the performance and showmanship, rather than the tricks themselves. They argue that using AI to perform mentalism goes against this ethos, as it takes away from the personal connection between the magician and their audience.

And yet, the “Ask AI Guy’s” use of “AI is Magic” empowers him to do things like read people’s minds and predict the future. And yet, ironically, his mentalism achieves baffling experiences for audiences that go to an extent far beyond what AI as a digital intelligence is currently capable of! An in fact the “Ask AI Guy” points this out in what he says, or as magicians call it, “patter.” So, if a magician’s repertoire out paces technology when it comes to magic and illusion, is it actually unjustly leaning on AI in the first place?

On the other hand, proponents of AI in magic argue that it is simply another tool in a magician’s arsenal. They say that using AI allows them to create effects that would be impossible using traditional methods, and can add a new level of excitement and intrigue to their performances. They also point out that using technology in magic is not a new concept, with magicians throughout history using various gadgets and props to enhance their acts.

Another concern that arises is the potential for AI to take over the role of the magician entirely. While AI can currently only perform specific tasks or respond to pre-programmed prompts, some worry that in the future, it could become advanced enough to perform entire magic acts on its own. This would fundamentally change the nature of magic as we know it and could have significant implications for the entertainment industry as a whole. Some magic aficionados are fine with this though, and sees this as a natural future transition for many forms of entertainment. They are also quick to point out that as long as one recognizes the first of the the ten pillars which is AI Do Good, then everything is fine.

One way that some magicians are using AI in their performances is by incorporating it into their props and illusions. For example, a magician may use a smartwatch or other wearable device that can detect specific movements or actions, triggering a particular effect in their act. This allows them to create unique and memorable illusions that would be impossible using traditional methods.

However, others argue that using AI in this way can be a double-edged sword. While it may create some impressive effects, it could also take away from the personal connection between the magician and their audience. Instead of being awed by the skill and artistry of the magician, the audience may simply be impressed by the technology being used.

Ultimately, the debate around AI in magic raises significant questions about the ethics of entertainment and the role of technology in our lives. Some argue that using AI in magic is no different from using other forms of technology, such as lighting or sound effects, while others see it as a fundamental shift in the nature of the art.

Regardless of where one falls on this issue, it is clear that AI is already having a significant impact on the entertainment industry as a whole. From virtual concerts to AI-generated art, technology is changing the way we experience and consume entertainment. As such, it is likely that the debate around AI in magic will continue for some time to come. And who knows, soon we might have Chatbots doing magic per the “Ask AI Guy’s” recently answered question.

In the end, the decision of whether to use AI in magic performances ultimately comes down to the individual magician’s ethical code and personal beliefs. Some will embrace the technology and use it to create new and exciting illusions, while others will stick to traditional methods. Or in the case of magician and mentalist the “Ask AI Guy” use AI to do things that AI itself is not yet capable of doing?

Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the art of magic will continue to evolve and adapt to the changing times, just as it has for more than one hundred years here in the Big Apple, also known as Manhattan, NYC where “AI is Magic!”