17 October 2023

Industry experts confirm AI is just a tool 

No, they weren’t name-calling. This was the rough summary, as interpreted by our Greg Wilson, of an event he attended last month (we’ve also discussed AI as threat or opportunity here).

AI Futures

The event, AI Futures: the Creative Industry in the North West was organised by ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University and Wash Studio. Keynote speakers and panellists were drawn from across the worlds of academia, TV, film, music, architecture, design and marketing. 

Industry experts confirm AI is just a tool 

Here’s Greg’s take: 

Without regurgitating the whole speaker and panellist list for the full-day event, it’s hard to capture the credibility of the speaking panel, so hopefully, it’s suffice to say the organisers pulled together an extremely impressive array of senior and well-informed contributors. 

My key takeaways from the event were that, while AI is a genuine technical wonder that is developing fast, its outputs will only ever be as good as the human inputs it receives. And, more crucially for me in terms of its impact on the creative industries, it will never be able to judge the value of its own outputs from an emotional perspective. 

In short, to provide value, it will always need a human operator and/or “selector” at some level. Yes, it can produce imagery in seconds. But it will never experience an emotional response to that imagery, so will never know if it has done well, unless a human tells it so. 

Now, some people in the creative industries may say they know that feeling well! But, to me, the binary nature of AI means that it will only ever be a tool for people working in the creative industries. In that sense, it will only ever work for humans, and will never replace them… entirely. 

Entry-level at risk

There is huge weight in the word ‘entirely’ there though. The danger that AI poses, potentially, to the creative industries, is that it will be able to replace some of the entry-level creative roles where most of us got our start. 

I’m not sure, personally though, whether that is just part of natural change. I, for one, started my PR career in the late 90s, gluing photos to printed press releases, stapling them together, putting them in envelopes, slotting them through the franking machine then walking over to the red post box at the far end of the office estate to post them one by one – sometimes until it was too full to fit any more. 

And then they invented email. And then guess what?  

But people have still been getting entry-level jobs in PR since the 90s and long after I hung up my Pritt Stick. It’s just the nature of entry-level jobs that have changed, pretty much hand-in-hand with technological progress. 

At the moment, I feel that AI will, in fact, just help us do our jobs quicker, which means providing better value for clients. And the more value we can provide and quicker, the better shape the industry will be in, overall. 

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