THE FUTURE OF AI AND CREATIVE INDUSTRYThere is something about artificial intelligence that inspires a low-grade panic in most people. On the one hand, AI represents an existential threat to human supremacy. Last year, Google’s AlphaGo beat the world’s best human player of Go, a notoriously complex strategy game with 300 times more possible plays than chess. On the other, AI represents a very practical threat to our economic well-being, eliminating jobs once performed by unskilled or junior workers. Already, AI has taken its place on the machine line (manufacturing robots), the customer service line (chatbots) and the design production line (facial recognition AI).
But pursuits that rely on and express our very humanity—art, literature, music—and the industries that harness that creativity were supposed to be safe. Machines that compose Irish folk Music, write Harry Potter fan fiction and edit science fiction movies all appear to be creeping into this most sacred realm.
If art is a process by which human beings express some idea or emotion, filter it through personal experience and set it against a broader cultural context, then by that measure, what AI generates at the behest of computer scientists is, well, something else. “At its root, art is one person communicating with another,” said Pindar Van Arman, a classically trained artist who has been coding art robots for 15 years. “I don't think that a machine will ever make art on its own until the machine is a person.”
AI IS YOUR NEXT CREATIVE PARTNERCreatives who want to know how they can harness AI to chart a new course might look to the stars. In 2006, NASA engineers faced a dilemma: Aircraft was becoming so automated that pilots were spending too much energy inputting commands and managing automation sequences. At the same time, they were lulled into a false sense of security by imperfect monitoring systems. The team posed the following question, “How do we balance between exploiting increasingly powerful technologies and retaining authority, with clear roles between humans and automation?”
The answer was the H-metaphor, a model for interaction with intelligent machines that is more like horse and rider than master and servant. According to the H-metaphor, much like a rider who trusts his horse to negotiate the terrain, humans should rely on machines for set and forget processes. But they should also have the power to chart the course and tighten the reigns, retaining big picture decisions and refining results to get to a desired outcome.
Creative industries can use the H-metaphor too. Like computer scientists, they engineer their teams for maximum results. They hire copywriters, art directors, UX designers and technologists that fit their parameters for taste, ingenuity and personality. Then they weight their algorithm by doling out seniority, assign briefs and wait for the output.
Max Fresn, chief creative at Born AI, is experimenting with an AI system that he hopes will be able to do exactly what those teams do. Like NASA’s H-Metaphor, Fresn would set the course by programming the AI to solve a specific problem, then let the machine do its work.
“Instead of paying junior copywriters and art directors to give me a million bad ideas that I have to cherry pick and nurture, I can have an AI generate a billion shitty ideas that I can cherry pick and work on them myself,” Fresn said. Considering AI’s ability to search and process millions of visual data points, such an application would be imminently helpful when scanning the web for relevant reference, for example.
Fresn’s work, however nascent, is not unlike that of AI artist Pindar Van Arman. Ultimately, he’s creating a system in his own image, choosing the parameters and weights that suit his taste and priorities. These techniques are also being explored at creative.ai, where Pieters said his team is developing AIs modeled after particular team members.
“It’s never 100 percent correct, but it’s correct enough, because creativity is messy,” he said. Such models would be better put to use training young creatives than replacing them, because they would give them access to artificial guidance modeled on their boss.