The role of a ‘creative’ is to bring imaginative, innovative ideas to the table.
Whether it’s the field of digital design, creative advertising or branding, the majority of creative work is a combination of ideas, techniques and imagery sourced either from the past or different fields. In theory, aspects of creativity are based on data and information absorbed over a lifetime. So, the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) can become our creative partner is gaining ground, but it’s not widely discussed or being taken particularly seriously in the creative sector.
Within the creative industries, there is a tension or distrust of the idea that machines could take over the creative process.
This compares with this projection that machine intelligence may replace 800m jobs globally by 2030, the bulk of which are tedious and repetitive.
Surely the ability to understand emotions, to imagine and create, will be the last bastion of human intelligence to be ceded to a logical, data-driven machine?
The protection of the creative process combined with a fear of robots taking our jobs has led to an entrenched position against AI’s role in creativity.
It’s time to change our mindset, from being ‘terminated’ to simply working alongside a machine.
AI tools optimise the creative process, they do not replace it.
By automating the tedious work, machines free us to explore, to imagine and focus on the best bits of our jobs.
So, if we accept that AI is not the enemy (and we know that view is not universally held), what is the role of AI in the creative process? At Great State, we think that there are three main advantages.
1. Being useful
Creatives have been implementing AI tools for years, to the degree that they have become second nature in workflows and don’t receive much attention.
For example, we’ve been using tools like Magic Wand and content-aware fills, and Google and Pinterest for image searching. By enabling AI to collect, sort, and analyse data, and optimise patterns, designers and developers can focus on actual creativity, and make innovative connections between things.
2. AI as a smart assistant
As AI tools improve and we get better at training them, a lot of the creative production can and will be automated. By analysing past ideas and human interactions from vast datasets, AI could create a new landscape of creative opportunity and could offer numerous solutions to tough problems.
Rather than starting with a blank canvas, creatives could use AI to direct them and kick-off ideas that are based on complex social contexts and insights.
The boundaries are no longer confined to an individual’s skillset, AI is a smart assistant that helps you actualise an idea.
A great example of AI stimulated creative is an approach called Parametric design which uses a type of algorithm to push the envelope of creative possibilities – it is already used in the field of architecture.
A breakthrough in the AI development has also been achieved by OpenAI and its latest GPT-3 language generator. It can create any kind of text – from text messages to HTML codes. It can not only help in the improvement of speech-to-text tools but can aid designers and developers in the creation of websites and mobile apps.
For example, an art director can request a ‘button that looks like a watermelon’ and GPT-3 will generate the code automatically. This AI advancement could impact the relationship between directors and designers as the tool not only understands but executes the given commands.
3. Creating artificial chaos
Perhaps the greatest human intellectual trait is the ability to give birth to an idea, to bring it into existence from the vacuum that preceded it. However, great ideas are not born from nothing, but from a life full of experiences and the application of a restless human mind that is open and willing to be taken to new places.
With access to infinite data, AI can take any human experience and multiply, intensify and transform it.
The stimulus from which the creative mind feasts can be stretched into new and chaotic ways.
An area where AI has unexpectedly inspired creativity is chess.
Since IBM’s Deep Blue won its first game against world champion Garry Kasparov in 1996, AI has shown it can create its own strategies, try new untested ways of doing things and baffle the players. This is a great example of how AI can stimulate new creative paths and encourage humans to explore new options.
AI tools do not represent the death of the creative process but the opportunity for unprecedented growth and development. They also have the potential to lead us to an unimagined world of thought, experiences, and creativity.
In the real world, we are constrained by physical laws, gravity continues to defy my attempts to fly like a bird, but in the virtual world the rules don’t apply! In the land of creativity, the same is true, the rules that constrain us melt away revealing a thrilling world of opportunity. Whereas the intelligence might be artificial in the future, the impact on creativity will still be real and human.