I fully understand why the creator community might be perplexed by the current rise in AI produced art. There are many programs out there that can generate amazing visual results with simple prompts, and we’ve explored ChatGPT here. It can, from an initial observation, appear to be an entirely bleak proposition. Fear not, the reality is far from scary, in fact I’d argue it’s exciting.
I spent my early career as an illustrator. I was copied, I saw this as a compliment and it made me try harder. Do more original work, be ahead of the curve. No one could copy what they couldn’t see. For me personally one of my biggest achievements was a design I created took just 9 days to be in the market as a fake. That just showed me how good it was.
Now, the parameters have shifted. I’ve seen many headlines denouncing AI as the death of creativity but in all honesty, I do not believe this to be the case at all. In order to fully understand the impact that this technology will have, it’s important to look back on similar moments in tech history and look at what the results were.
Does invention change the world for the worse?
It is extremely rare to encounter someone who doesn’t use a smartphone these days. Before the introduction of the iPhone, the mobile phone market was diverse, with many models and styles appealing to a broad range of tastes and needs. The iPhone condensed everything into one easy to use device that saw a complete upheaval in the way we interact with our phones. The byproduct of this was the birth of countless new industries, without smartphones there would be no app companies, wireless headphones would likely be some way behind where they are today, and many other businesses predicated on use with a smartphone simply would not exist.
Similarly, from the perspective of a mathematician, the advent of the calculator must’ve been viewed as the heralding of the end of their profession. Surely such a powerful device, capable of performing complex calculations in mere seconds meant that everyone in the world now became a mathematician? Of course, we know now that it didn’t. In fact, the world simply adapted around it. The calculator streamlines processes, but crucially it does not replace them. If we leave a calculator on the desk, it does not decide to start working things out on its own accord, and if you don’t use it properly you will not get the proper results.
The same can be said for AI, especially in the context of creation. Sure, at a glance it does look troubling. To become an artist is to demonstrate discipline, like any other vocation, and with this technology available does that not mean that everyone is now an artist? I think the answer comes down to creativity and input. I can ask an AI for pretty much anything, and whilst the output is extremely impressive, the results are never exactly what I want. In the same thread, what if the results are close but I want to change a few details? The communication of context, feeling and emotion are crucial when creating, something that an AI is a mere facsimile of. As a prompt, or a quick reference for what was in my mind, sure it works incredibly well, but for actual delivery the job still remains firmly in the hands of the creator.
How can creators benefit from AI?
I’ve talked about why AI shouldn’t be feared by creators, but how can it actually help them? Creators should embrace AI because it can help them to automate repetitive tasks, generate new ideas, and improve their workflow. From a digital artist's perspective, sometimes getting started is the hardest part of a project. The smallest spark can set in motion the process, something AI is well equipped to do.
Additionally, AI can help creators to reach new audiences and create new forms of content. By using AI, creators can also improve the accessibility of their content, by automatically captioning videos or creating alternate versions of text. Furthermore, AI can help to create personalised and interactive experiences for users, leading to increased engagement and revenue. Again, this isn’t a replacement, just another useful tool to enhance the offerings available.
AI's rise in the creation of art may initially appear daunting, but it presents a unique opportunity for artists and creators to enhance their work and reach new audiences. AI can streamline repetitive tasks, spark new ideas, and improve accessibility, but it cannot replace the human touch that brings life to a creation. The creativity and context provided by the artist will always remain the foundation of any work of art. So all that remains is for you to embrace the technology and discover new possibilities for your craft.
There’s no need to worry about the machines, they’re our friends and are here to help!
Jamie has a passion for digital, and leads a team of designers, content creators and programmers that constantly push the boundaries in the world of digital.