Discussing Artificial Intelligence

We sat down with some of the DECIDE team to ask their opinions on the recent AI developments on the news...


How much do you know about content generating AI?

We always keep abreast of any new developments within the industry that may affect our working practice, processes and what we can offer our clients and so have been monitoring developments in AI for the last couple of years.

"One of my daughter’s favourite things to do in the car is to ask Google various, personal questions. She’s tried all sorts of things, but we always get a chuckle out of the answers it tends to give."

What are your initial thoughts?

These digital innovations were inevitably going to happen, and they will definitely provide some very exciting opportunities. It’s something that as a business we're keeping a very close eye on in order to see how we can use this to the best advantage to our clients. As to how AI will alter business models and processes remains to be seen, and as ever, the devil is in the detail. We already incorporate AI in our eye-tracking meaning that we can assess how visual communications are read in seconds vs what previously took days.

"Quite scary, amazing, but scary. I think with the imagery ones, when I tried using them, ended up being quite hit and miss."

Chief Science Officer and co-founder of AI company Erudite, Ricardo Michel Reyes says “Humans will always evolve and find ways to do things faster and better. You can walk anywhere, but you will get there faster by car.” Whilst business always wants products and services delivered faster (without compromising on quality and cost effectiveness), in my opinion the 'car vs walking' analogy potentially overlooks the fact that these are two very different experiences and that both have value in different contexts, depending on the objectives of what one is doing ie one is not necessarily better than the other - take for instance the difference in consumer experiences delivered by music streaming vs vinyl.

Just as technology has enabled “everyone to think of themselves as a designer, typographer or photographer” (at least to some extent) it has also had an impact on the quality of what is often produced due to lack of traditional craft knowledge (such as kerning, leading, tracking and glyphs in typography for example) and just as text-speak has altered the way we communicate (but not necessarily in a bad way) by reducing the breadth of our vocabulary. It may become a case of ‘horses for courses’ in the sense that audience expectations of what constitutes ‘acceptable/believable’ will evolve.

"Depends what level you’re at, for beginners yes, for more sort of professional or more advanced users, no. I’m not fearful of losing my job yet!"

The counter to this is the risk that shoppers and consumers may lose trust in the images that they see. For businesses and brands whose success depends on connecting with people and convincing them to buy via imagery (packaging, editorial etc) this is potentially an important issue. However, conversely, this may provide design consultancies with new opportunities to think differently in order to give their clients’ brands and products a competitive edge in the market.

For most careers, I think it’s safe to say that AI could support, or perhaps even replace a part or the entirety of someone’s workload: which do you feel applies more to yourself?

I think that inevitably AI will affect all aspects of the strategic and creative industry to differing extents. I can see it speeding up some of the more labour-intensive aspects of the job leaving more time to focus on strategic creative thinking which can only be a good thing. Now that photo libraries are starting to offer an AI function in their image generation I can see how, with the aid of carefully crafted and well-thought through briefing, this may also be an advantage in helping generate image support for concepting at an early stage in the process. The speed at which images can be created should also enhance speed to market (to a certain extent).

"We’re already on a journey where I think technology and automation is kind of replacing humans and we’ve seen how that can lead to increases in effectiveness or consistency etc. I honestly do think it’s here to stay, and I think it will help! Particularly in environments like ours, where you look at speeds of turnaround … you need to know where the value creation is going to happen."

Is there a change within your professional career in the past that feels as impactful as AI could be?

Having not had a computer at the beginning of my career, I remember suddenly being presented with a laptop, working from a computer was a massive game changer. There’s a few remaining in the business that actually remember those days, but everything was done by hand. I feel quite privileged to have lived through that, to know what it’s like to be without computers, without mobile phones, without this kind of technology. 

"The last major change within the industry which potentially had as major an impact as AI may have was the introduction of computers into the creative proces - yes, I’ve been in the industry too long!"

In the past I remember sitting with my brother and they’re talking about the world wide web, what’s that all about? And it’s almost by osmosis you take it on board. None of us sat down to learn how to use the web, you just start to dabble in it and it slowly becomes your everyday norm and you can’t live without google. Some of us here have gone through those major major tech changes. Now reading about Chat GPT and the other content generators, my first thoughts were that it’s scary, but think about the past and how that went, I think “okay, this is how the world’s going to go” and we just have to each adapt individually.

Does your experience provide you with any insight that makes you think your role is more nuanced than being replaced by a computer?

Part of my role as Executive Creative Director is to provide copywriting (anything from creating brand tone of voice and headlines to long copy etc) so with this in mind have tested Chat GPT, and whilst it can generate long lists of headlines for instance, they are in the main quite derivative and missing that certain ‘magic’ and instinct that makes a good line stand apart from the competitors. In other words they can provide a starting point for trains of thought, but not the final crafted solutions.

"When you work with Chat GPT, you still need a basic understanding of whether what it outputs is right or wrong, but when the thing you’re creating is more subjective, it becomes a lot more difficult to judge. I think something this technology initially does, and any technology really, is that it’ll end up creating a high volume of poor content"

Years of experience and empathy with shoppers and consumers most definitely provide the missing link in evolving an ‘average' line into a ‘stand-apart' line. Chat GPT was recently used to scrape Nick Cave lyrics and write a new song in his style resulting in a track which Cave said ‘lacked soul' and 'sucks’, going on to call it “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human."

It’s also a case of relearning how to brief effectively within the context of AI - as ever, the best briefs lead to the most effective solutions.

Anything else to add?

I think the recent news that many of the leaders of the leading global tech companies have signed an open letter recommending a pause in the development of AI until the ramifications to society can be ascertained is an interesting development.

"I think it’s the more human it becomes, isn’t it? The nature of how we interact with it humanises it a little bit, the way you chat with it and the three dots come up to show that it’s thinking, I’m sure it’s already decided an answer in milliseconds, but makes sure it feels human by typing for you word by word."

With reference to text to image generators, this will be a massive step forward in time saving, however how these images are created needs to be refined from a moral and legal viewpoint. GETTY IMAGES for example is suing the creators of AI tool Stable Diffusion for unlawfully scraping “millions of images” without a license in violation of the visual media company’s copyright.

"I think something humans have is the ability to react in the moment, change mid conversation when you see the mood change in a room or scenario. Seeing someone not making eye contact, AI’s not gonna pick something like that up."

The millions/billions of dollars that may need to be paid in compensation will hopefully lead to the establishment of a new set of copyright agreements with image providers such as photo libraries and image originators to be fairly compensated. The fine art world is already taking action to monitor and restrict access to image scraping tools and are ‘opting out’ of allowing their work to be farmed with “Do Not AI” signs appearing on social media accounts and galleries. Being an image and copy originator will always deliver competitive advantage.