The Discourse: AI and the Creative Industry – 1/3

Written by The Discourse

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” – Dr Ian Malcolm, Jurassic Park

Admittedly this quote is from a movie, but it feels incredibly relevant to the situation we’re in now, and we all know what happened in Jurassic Park. (If you don’t, everyone had a bad time!)

With 83% of creatives already using machine learning tools in their work, perhaps we are asking ourselves this question too late, as there’s no denying that AI is here and it’s not going anywhere soon. Big tech is scrambling to provide us with faster and better versions of AI, and you’d struggle to find a business in any sector that hasn’t wondered how AI can benefit them, if it will affect jobs and what they can do to make sure they’re not left behind.

In our latest blog series we are entering the discourse about AI and the impact of this new technology. From general feelings towards AI and machine learning in the creative industry, where the existing tools are proving to be most useful at the agency, to the wider considerations around ethics and the environmental impact.

Disruptive technology

AI has created a lot of excitement in the creative industry, and at the same time a lot of fear that our jobs, lives, businesses and artistry is under threat. There is a healthy dose of both apprehension and curiosity. ‘It’s nice that’ conducted a survey and found that on the one hand 41% of creatives are excited about the opportunities it presents, whilst 26% see it as a terrible development.

From our perspective, disruptive technology is not a new thing. Back in the 80’s ‘there was a lot of fear about spreadsheets killing accounting jobs’. But as we know, this software is now an essential tool for accountants, and using this technology is an important skill for bookkeepers, business owners, marketers and wedding planners alike!

Even closer to home, back in the 1800’s painters opposed the invention of the camera which they saw as a threat to their craft. In a recent Medium article titled ‘Is A.I. the death of art? Or the future of creativity?’ Aron Brand makes an interesting point saying that ‘the camera didn’t replace painters, it simply created a new medium for them to explore’.

So whether you champion AI as a creative tool, or feel threatened by it, that’s ok. Just know that this isn’t the first time people or creatives have faced a situation like this and we’re still here to tell the tale. There’s an element to all this which should provide some comfort to anyone who feels at risk. There are a lot of businesses and charities out there that don’t have the time, skills or inclination to use these tools. The ones that do may have in house creative teams and not need to use agencies or freelancers in the first place.

Our message to our fellow creatives is that despite the apprehensions surrounding AI, change is an inherent aspect that every industry encounters and we arguably possess a heightened ability to adapt. Therefore, we believe a lot of the initial fears around AI taking our jobs are misplaced. However, some of the genuine issues that we should be wary of are less obvious, more on that in Part 3 of this series.

At The Discourse, we believe that whilst AI will bring change it won’t necessarily be a complete system overhaul in the creative industry, not yet at least. Of the creatives who are already using AI tools, only one in six (17%) say AI has truly altered their process and less than 1% believe what it produces meets current industry standards.

Thoughts from our network

What’s apparent is that opinions are very much split on the subject, although we’ve found an overwhelming sense of confidence that human beings will prevail. Here’s what some of the creatives in our team and network have to say on the subject…

“AI should be used as a tool to push our creative boundaries – allowing us to be playful and innovative. However, I’m nervous that it will lead to a sea of generic content too, we need to use it creatively and not for shortcuts.”

Issy Cheung, Creative Director at The Discourse

“Our aim is to use these technologies creatively for the good of society and our planet, prioritising progress over profit. My biggest worry is that the AI power race is being fueled by greed rather than the technology’s true potential.”

Andy Gordon, Torchbox (Digital Agency and Certified B Corp)

“It seems like eventually AI will take over most creative digital work. I think it can be used as a tool to elevate human work. However, I am also feeling the call to go back to the physical world and reconnect with space. Making it a perfect time to move to Mexico and paint murals!”

Beatriz Leonardo, Freelance Illustrator and Artist

”Using AI lazily will get you lazy results. Use your experiences, influences and passions, equip yourself with art history knowledge and keep experimenting with different combinations of AI tools. By actively using the AI in this way you can achieve things that would have previously been impossible.”

James Finlay, Founder & Creative Director at Myth Studio

“Turn if off, for now at least. There are undoubtedly some benefits which will come from AI in the future, but right now whilst we must urgently find carbon emissions reductions across the globe, I don’t see that now is the time to be wildly experimenting with something so carbon intensive, the stakes are too high.”

Hannah Smith, Director of Operations at Green Web Foundation

“Clients come to me for authentic video that is grounded in reality, so I don’t feel threatened by AI as a creative. Protecting the value of the creative process and the relationships involved is what’s important to me.”

Ross Harrison, Videographer

“I will have to quote the great, late Sir Terry Pratchett: “Real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time.” AI is here and it’s here to stay. Our job is to be and stay as human as possible in the face of the challenges and opportunities it presents.”

Iris Hable, Marketing and Communications Manager at Future Leap

At The Discourse, we enable businesses and charities to present the best version of themselves, whilst helping them to shift the narrative in society and industry through brand, the web and content. Done right, design builds trust, communicates purpose and positions your organisation successfully at every touch point.

If you’re ready to take your business or charity to the next level, we’d love to have a chat to see if we can help, you can contact us here.

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