Creatives should embrace AI, but only if it makes them more creative
Adam Holloway of creative agency Emperor casts a philosophical eye at the present mania for AI art: harbinger of the end-times, savior of creativity, or something in between?
What can we learn from AI, and what can it learn from us? / Brett Jordan via Unsplash
Artificial intelligence: not a new phenomenon, and one that has long been theorized. There have been numerous predictions, notably in popular culture, with box office classics depicting the rise of AI as a malevolent force, hellbent on destroying humanity.
Mainstream and (supposedly) more sensible economic and societal predictions haven’t been quite so dire – yet they still paint a gloomy picture, with many predicting AI will make a number of jobs obsolete in the next 25 years.
With technological advances making AI more of a reality every day, it’s a subject very much in the headlines. According to some estimates, the “use of AI in many sectors of business has grown by 270% over the last four years”.
Outside Silicon Valley, the application of AI is currently most visible in industries like transportation, manufacturing, financial services, and security. It’s also becoming more evident in healthcare, insurance, telecommunications, energy, and aviation to name but a few. We’ve also seen it make its debut in the creative industry, which has been met with a mixture of excitement and fear.
I’ll be back
It’s not unreasonable for us to exercise some caution here. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen the impact technology has had on the print industry, with content moving online and primarily consumed through our smart devices. More recently, we’ve seen the productization of websites and digital assets with off-the-shelf templates available for a monthly subscription. There is no doubt that our industry will be affected by AI.
While other industries have largely adopted AI to increase efficiency with the automation of repetitive tasks, it’s interesting to see that in our industry it has manifested itself in an array of creative ‘tools’ that you wouldn’t necessarily put in this category.
Let’s start with image generation. Simply enter a text description and within seconds and it will create realistic images based on those criteria.
Text generation works the same way: enter a text description of what you need with any search parameters and sit back and let the bot do the work. Before you know it, you have a 500-word piece for your blog.
While the tools we’ve experimented with are all a bit clunky, they are seriously impressive bits of tech. Putting aside the obvious sensitivities around image manipulation and the significant copyright and licensing issues that need to be resolved, you can’t help but see the potential. This tech will get much better, and fast.
But before we go headfirst down a rabbit hole, shouldn’t we be asking ourselves when, where and how we use it to best suit us and our clients?
It’s worth reminding ourselves what is to be creative.
Since the very first images were painted onto a wall of a cave or carved into stone, creativity has been about storytelling. A human story. Born from shared emotions and experiences.
The history of creativity is the story of human evolution. Recording and sharing knowledge, what we’ve learned through the process of trial and error.
It’s always been spearheaded by people who literally think differently: the quirky visionaries and sometimes neurodiverse among us. The ones who think around the walls. Who understand and nurture human relationships.
The creative process itself is one of collaboration and sharing. Sharing the joy, the pain, the triumphs and (just as importantly) the failures. Truly knowing and understanding our audiences and all the unique nuances that come with them.
I know this all sounds a bit theatrical, but it’s worth reminding ourselves of the true value of creativity and asking if it’s really in our best interest for it to become a mass-produced commodity produced by ‘a set of algorithms that have the capacity to change and rewrite themselves in response to the data inputted’? That just seems lazy and joyless to me.
We don’t need AI to make art. We need AI to write emails and clean the house and deliver the groceries so humans can make more art.— SJ Sindu Shakti available for pre-order (@SJSindu) January 4, 2023
We need to think harder about how we can work alongside this technology, streamlining, and refining the creative process so we can use it to free us up to do what we do best. However good AI becomes, and however we deploy it, intelligent, distinctive, and effective ideas will always be a human endeavor.
Content by The Drum Network member:
Emperor is here to turn ambition into success through the power of clear, confident and consistent communications. We're specialists in reporting, brand, employee experience and sustainability; and experts in getting the most from integrated media and channels. Through this knowledge, we enable you to enrich relationships, build understanding, shape behaviour and deliver better business.Find out more