Pieratt makes a further distinction between style and taste. Style is a superficial aesthetic code that is relatively simple to replicate, whereas taste is a kind of wider aesthetic intelligence, able to connect and integrate disparate experiences. Algorithms can approximate the former — telling me I should wear a blue shirt — but can’t approximate the latter because the machine can’t tell me why it thinks I should wear a blue shirt or what the blue shirt might mean to me. When a machine has taken over the exploration of taste, the possibility of suddenly feeling something from a surprising object is narrowed to only what the machine decides to expose. “I don’t think there’s such a thing as machine taste yet,” says Pieratt.
The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.