Always good to have someone play devil’s advocate, but are you playing devil’s advocate or are you just stating your preference about the style of photography you prefer? I have many friends who also prefer not to use any manipulation of their photos other than the bare basics, certainly nothing that would be considered AI. They are amazing photographers and I am impressed by their work. I don’t see their preferred style as making my preferred style less than. We all just use different tools to express ourselves. We each have different visions. It is all still art, it is all still an expression of how we experience the world. It is not a competition of which style is best.
My question though is if we do choose to use AI how far are we willing to go with it? At what point does it cease to be our work and become just another generated work? Personally, I love to go out and just take the photo, but I also love to kibitz with the post-processing. I do not feel that makes me less or more of an artist. What makes me an artist is the ability to visualize and create something from my experiences, feelings, and the skills I have learned. A machine like AI may have crazy skills but it lacks the experiences and feelings.