As the dust starts to settle and AI platforms such as ChatGPT, Jasper, Colossyan, Midjourney and Dall-e start to improve I’ve been really interested in how people have been using AI on a daily basis. Have people welcomed it with open arms or are they doomsday prepping as companies like Facebook reveal that their AI system has developed its own language that humans can’t understand. Are we accepting or rejecting it and do we really have a choice?

If you're in the content creation game right now, especially if you're a copywriter, AI has made your job really tough. What was once a full time role can now be reduced to a few simple instructions and spat out by AI in a matter of seconds. Businesses can now use AI to write everything from press releases to user manuals. While it sucks for the humans who used to write these things, it has also created a new skillset which is to communicate with AI in such a way to get what you want. There is now a whole industry emerging dedicated to creating AI prompts.

I had a play ages ago with AI images and it took many tries to get something that was usable. I haven’t played with all the different AI platforms yet but the common feedback is that it's the quality of the input you give to AI that leads to the best result. There is an art to asking and tweaking instructions so that you get a usable outcome.  

The most promising way I’ve heard AI being discussed is as a tool. Using it as part of a larger suite of skills that a professional would use. AI can make the mundane jobs quick and painless. For example it can quickly summarise a document into a few statements giving you a great overview without reading the whole thing. It can quickly mock up storyboards and compositions for all sorts of projects. It can act as a research assistant and gather information. Its uses are limitless.

My understanding is that most people who regularly use AI as part of their workflow are doing so to speedily test ideas and access a broad range of resources quickly. Using AI saves time. 

Time. 

That elusive thing that is always there but we never have enough of. When there are two options available, pay a human for several hours of their time and expertise or ask a bot for 1000 words delivered in a second, for free. The maths is simple. Using AI is quick. So quick that I feel we should be suspicious.

I’m not suggesting that the results shouldn’t be trusted,  although I wouldn’t trust them. I’m suspicious because using AI is removing two things I love about being a human. Firstly, the process of discovery that happens when you learn something new and secondly, actually being a human.

I don’t know how many times I’ve been looking for something and found something else. I do it all the time at the library (yes, a real library), go in for a particular book and walk out with 5 others about something completely different. I think everyone has been caught in an internet worm hole where you start with one topic and end up somewhere, far off the beaten track where you probably shouldn't be.

Now this may sound like wasting time but for my practice as a graphic designer I need to have these random tangents in my life. These are where the gold seams run thick. The seemingly random connections between topics and ideas that spark something else entirely exist in the periphery where there is space and time to connect. 

What concerns me about AI is that people are just going straight to an answer without meandering through the forest of discovery. AI efficiency leaves no room for daydreaming, no room for an accidental encounter. The job is done. Tick. move on.

This is absolutely why people use AI right - so they get shit done quickly. I acknowledge that 100% and I also think that is why people are leaning into Ai in more administrative tasks and mock ups - not necessarily final outputs. Again, it’s a tool like any other.  

I don't actively use any of the AI services as part of my practice yet but I have encountered it at every turn and in very different ways.

Firstly I had a client explaining to us (me and my favourite copywriter) that AI is totally the way to go and that we shouldn’t be scared of it but embrace it for all its glory! This was exampled by an AI summary of my personality using my LinkedIN profile and website. Everything looked fine apart from the fact that it thought I was a man. I mean, I’ve got short hair but surely there is enough content in the 174 blogs I’ve written about being a Mum to suggest I have ovaries. This meeting also resulted in us quietly losing months of work as they brought content creation inhouse. 

Another client I worked with just managed to get some ‘playtime’ into the quote. This is a job for a major brand that has such extensive brand guidelines that a simple name tag couldn’t be produced without following a set of instructions. In this case they need humans to think outside the square and that takes time - playtime as we call it.

Having the client agree to time in the budget for thinking and experimentation is pretty rare. When AI can produce things in a flash, asking for more creative freedom feels like a hard sell. There are always going to be people like client number one who just want the output. To be honest it doesn’t matter how good you are, if there is a cheaper way to do it, they'll do it. 

Luckily I’m finding more and more people who align with client number two - who believe that ‘playtime’ is valuable and necessary for a brand's evolution. I believe that AI is going to be a part of that evolution whether you like it or not.

Already I can guarantee that a large percentage of your inbox would’ve been written by AI. As someone who writes I find the transparency around authorship a little disconcerting. I found out recently that an email I was receiving was written by AI and not the signed author - I felt a bit dirty. It feels disingenuous. But if the message is still received then does it matter who wrote it?

I love seeing how people are using AI, each example is as different as we are which goes to show that humans are still the creatives behind it all. I guess my departing thought is just because we can do something fast, should we? 

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