The AI of the beholder

The AI of the beholdar

The first piece of AI-generated art (Portrait of Edmond De Belamy) sold for £337,000. It got us creatives wondering – how long until AI is doing our jobs? So, top timing for our Planning Director, Keith Nichol, to touchdown from a trip to Dubai where he’s been chatting AI to audiences at the Customer Engagement Technology conference. Suspicious of an Emirates jolly, we cornered Keith in the kitchen to quiz him on the deets. Here’s how it played out:

Q. Where’s our bag of second-rate airport sweets?

A. On the table.

Q. Good. Us creatives are a tad anxious about AI nicking our jobs. You know, things like Adobe Sensei. Care to allay our fears?

A. Adobe Sensei is a set of services being used to apply technology like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Deep Learning into Adobe’s software.

So, let’s say you’re mocking up an ad. Adobe Sensei can recommend the best assets to use, automatically remove unwanted areas, such as backgrounds, and make design recommendations based on user insight. Pretty cool, right?

Q. I’ll clear my desk.

A. Hold up. This isn’t really a new thing. Adobe’s been the ally of creative folk for over a generation, and I don’t see that changing overnight. They’ve built on their core design software – InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator – and evolved into a comprehensive marketing platform and subscription model. It means they’re better able to invest in ongoing product development – and AI has always been part of that. It’s actually good news for busy agencies (and their clients).

Q. So if AI is going to make my job easier, I’ll have more time for neat ideas and ping pong, right?

A. AI should eliminate the mundane mouse clicking, yes. But will you be rewarded with more time for creative work? Probably not. Just look at how much time computers have saved us over the last 25 years. Are we sat around playing ping pong all day? Don’t answer that.

Q. But will a robot eventually hand me (email) my P45?

A. McKinsey predict that 800 million jobs will be displaced globally by 2030. Even the boss of Google has expressed cause for concern. Just as it was 25 years ago, the benefit of technology within the creative industry is immense, but there are clearly new challenges to overcome. We just need to work harder and do a better job at changing the perception that technology is out to get us… to replace us.

In summary then, Keith was in fact not on a jolly in Dubai. And there’s definitely a robot that can fulfil part of a creative role. But just the boring bit. For now.

We’re not experts in AI, we just find it interesting/terrifying. So if you fancy a chinwag about it, we’ll get the kettle on. Might be one of Keith’s weird Dubai sweets left.

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