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What does the rise of AI mean for the future of creativity?

This article was written by a human. It’s worth stating from the outset because if much of the hype around the latest advancements in AI...

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1.25.2023

9 min read

This article was written by a human.


It’s worth stating from the outset because if much of the hype around the latest advancements in AI technology is to be believed, most content can be covered by bots.


Take OpenAI’s language model ChatGPT as an example. Launched in November 2022, the AI-based chatbot system uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to generate conversations, responding to questions with relevant, human-like answers. When prompted to produce an introductory paragraph for an article that questions what AI means for the future of creativity, it provided the following:


“In a world increasingly dominated by artificial intelligence (AI), the future of creativity is uncertain. AI has the potential to automate many creative tasks, from writing to art to music. This could lead to a world where creativity is monopolized by machines, with humans relegated to a supporting role.”


AI would suggest that it can take a leading role in creativity. Still, it’s not a bad effort and a glimpse of just how far the technology has come, and where it could go. But hype and cynicism aside, what is the real value AI offers creative industries, what are its downsides, and what can agencies do now so they don’t miss the boat?



Some key players and their AI tools

While OpenAI is the company currently making the most waves in generative AI – buoyed by Microsoft’s investment interests and the idea that systems like ChatGPT may someday replace Google – many other businesses are inventing similar technology to create ‘original’ content. And, as ChatGPT alluded to, it’s across the entire creative spectrum: fine art, poetry, long-form articles, video and music.


To generate content, these programs are trained on datasets of existing content that hold text, images, video files and code scraped from the internet.


Covering AI music generation, you have the likes of Amper Music and Soundraw enabling users to create melodies in minutes. For text-to-image generation, Astria, OpenAI’s DALL·E 2, Midjourney and Jasper create images and art to match your message. AI video makers such as Alai and Synthesia are generating convincing avatars that speak to camera. Latte is taking much of the creative effort out of social media content, while OpenAI has a range of competitors vying for top spot in AI writing, including Copy.ai, Rytr and Writesonic. The list goes on, including Wix’s AI Text Creator, which it recently opened to Partners who are building sites for clients.


While much of this software is still in its infancy or at beta stage, it is already disrupting creative industries. Some creators, like artist Refik Anadol, are fully embracing the tools and pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. Others, like designer Ammaar Reshi, are doing the unthinkable, producing work that would typically take months or years in just one weekend.


Musicians like Nick Cave have weighed in, describing ChatGPT’s efforts to write a song in his style as “a grotesque mockery of what it is to be human.” While the future of journalism and publishing was called into question when tech news outlet CNET was found to be employing “automation technology” to write financial explainer articles under the guise of ‘CNET Money Staff.’ They later said that it was for research purposes only.


Such stories remind us what an extremely grey area AI is, as we try to figure out how to use the technology for good. Indeed, we must navigate many ethical issues, like plagiarism, copyright law, quality of output, environmental impact, misinformation, bias and job loss. It’s a journey fraught with risk, but as with any emerging technology, there is much to be gained.



Can AI replace human content writers?

With ChatGPT forming much of the current AI conversation, it’s no surprise that the future of creating content is under the spotlight. For Laura Ramsay, content lead at Wix Partners, the emerging tech evokes both caution and excitement – excitement about how it might make us work more efficiently but caution about it replacing the human touch.


“It will save a lot of time when researching topics, writing briefs, and for technical writing, knowledge base and UX,” she says. “However, we can’t guarantee that its answers will be relevant or up-to-date. Most importantly, the tone of voice, feelings, emotions and nuances that are carefully developed and told by the personalities behind the brands can't be replaced by a machine. It can serve many purposes but replacing actual writers to create original, smart content? I'm not convinced.”


Ramsay believes AI can make the research phase of content creation much more efficient. It can also be used for inspiration when brainstorming ad copy directions or unique angles. For agencies, she says it saves time and money on repetitive tasks, such as writing eCommerce product descriptions, SEO duties like sorting Google search keywords into clusters, pitch support and proposals, but when it comes to writing brand stories and website copy, Ramsay believes personality is still key.


The truth is, many agencies are still at the experimentation stage of using AI. According to the 2022 State of Marketing and Sales AI Report, 45% of marketers classify themselves as AI beginners, 43% say they’re at an intermediate level, while just 12% say they are at an advanced level. Expect more agencies to dive deeper in 2023, which many are calling ‘the year AI goes mainstream.’


With all this in mind, we spoke to six Wix Partners to hear how they’ve been using AI tools in their everyday work, plus see how it might impact their professions.



Take a hybrid approach

Matt Konarzewski, founder of Vision Marketing, is deep in the AI rabbit hole. He says agencies must adopt the technology to remain relevant to clients on all things digital. He’s been using AI tools for his agency blog. In one recent post, How to revolutionize your SEO strategy with Wix, he used ChatGPT to generate text, Synthesia to create video and Midjourney to build social media graphics.


Konarzewski says AI will boost the speed of development, design and content creation, but expresses concern about the volume of “random content” that will flood the internet and how it might affect Google’s guidelines for SEO.


Still, he believes agencies must take a hybrid approach and supplement their day-to-day work with AI tools to get the best results for clients. “With AI, we need to shift our creativity to different areas and work together with robots to achieve desired outcomes for our clients faster and better.”



Don’t be afraid of AI. Leverage it.

Carlos Cortez of S9 Consulting has been using AI writing software such as Jasper, Speedwrite and Copy.ai for the past two years and recently added ChatGPT to the mix. “It serves as a fantastic starting point for writing blog posts,” he says. “It can’t get you 100% there, but it gives you an excellent starting point for producing real content and SEO-driven phrases.”


Cortez says AI will allow agencies to be more cost-effective in their content marketing services due to reduced product costs and time. He believes the critical challenge it poses is the reduced barrier to entry for prospects who would otherwise become clients. Rather than hiring an agency to write a blog post, they might use these tools to do the basics themselves.


Still, despite the tech advancements, Cortez is optimistic about the continuing need for agency services. “Like anything, AI is just a tool,” he says. “All the greats know you have to grow and adapt with the times. This is no different. Don’t be afraid of technology; figure out ways to leverage it because it will never replace an agency’s expertise.”



Integrate AI with your favorite tools

Chris Sammarone, CEO of Upcode Studios, has been trialing ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 and describes it as a positive experience in supplementing his agency’s creative services. He’s intrigued about the technology’s potential to augment creative design and content.


“We see a few major pros and cons to AI tools, such as the ability to save time and money on labor power and the potential for faster, more accurate turnaround rates,” he says. “Conversely, the potential for aesthetic constraints could discourage more artistic pursuits. We anticipate using these tools for time and labor-saving tasks and potentially fill gaps in our current services.”


Sammarone expresses more interest in the research and development of the OpenAI API for his agency’s favorite development platforms. “We’re hoping to integrate this API into our client relationship and project management systems, follow-up processes and customer service workflows.”



Create solid UX/UI foundations to build upon

Jacob Murphy, founder of Act One Media, has been exploring the possibilities of AI tools but has yet to use them in a client project. “That may change soon, or it may never change,” he says. “AI tools are certainly interesting – and some of them are very cool – but it feels like they lack that indefinable human element that makes design surprising and fun.”


Murphy sees opportunities to use AI in the early stages of web projects – a tool to create solid UX or UI foundations that agency teams can then tweak and build upon. His studio will explore these opportunities in more detail, but for now, he’ll leave the true creativity to humans.


“AI can use a lot of rules to create something that feels creative, but I’m not sure it can create something that feels fresh or outside the box in the same way a great designer or writer can,” he says. “Maybe they can, and I just haven’t seen it yet, but for now, my feeling is there is something magical about a whimsical turn of phrase in copy or in a design full of personality, and that’s what I’m most interested in.”



Automate tedious tasks

Matthew Tropp of full-service media agency Blackthorn Publishing uses Jasper AI to generate content for press releases, blog posts and website copy. He says the results have been impressive and require minor revision. He’s intrigued by the potential OpenAI’s latest offerings bring to the industry and sees these tools as a way to produce high-quality client work in faster turnaround times.


“AI will likely play an increasingly important role in web design, with the potential to greatly improve user experience and make the process of creating websites easier,” he says. “AI can help automate tedious tasks such as website testing, optimizing images and colors for best display, and can suggest changes to optimize a website’s performance. Additionally, AI can help create website layouts and designs optimized for user experience, helping increase conversions.”


Tropp cites computer biases and copyright infringement as top concerns for professionals when it comes to AI, but believes the benefits outweigh the disadvantages and that the technology can revolutionize creative fields. “For me, It’s all about time management and efficiency when using AI,” he says. “It’s really helped my business grow.”



Stay ahead of the competition

Laylee Bodaghee, CEO at Shadow Knights Studio, predicts that in the next 3 to 5 years, AI will occupy 30 to 40% of most agencies’ capabilities. The studio currently uses systems like Midjourney, ChatGPT and DALL·E 2 to improve workflows and boost output.


“To not use AI means falling behind the competition,” she says. “Project management, design, graphics, music, art, writing and more will all be auto-generated with smaller professional teams tinkering to get better outputs from the AI. This will mostly be our trajectory as well.”


As AI tools continue to proliferate into most mediums, Bodaghee warns that industries must not allow these systems to exploit people and genuine expression. While she is excited about how the technology can improve performance and bring new ideas to the table, she says we must always encourage the real. (Read more about speculative design.)


“The authentic experience will continue to be a currency of the future. Similar to how people still enjoy analog wristwatches, pottery, and crafts, music played by strings, there will always be a role for people who love to create by hand and strike an emotional response. Even when it’s no longer the norm, our team hopes to continue this long tradition of creative work well into the future.”



Use AI to augment your creativity, not define it

OpenAI says the ultimate aim of its technology is to achieve “artificial general intelligence.” That is, to fully mirror the intelligence, creativity and thoughtfulness of humans. It’s a big ask and a place we’re still some way from.


Rather than prompt ChatGPT for a concluding comment on how and when we expect to get there, Bodaghee neatly sums up the overriding view among creative professionals.


“With AI, you need to keep an open mind and explore what is possible within its confines or limitations,” she says. “You will find that AI can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you, but nothing is perfect, and many AI systems often deliver wrong answers or bizarre outputs. It will rest on your shoulders how to appropriately package the end product. In short, AI should be used to augment your creativity, not define it.”


Ramsay echoes that sentiment and believes there will always be a demand for human creativity. “While we're all obsessed with content, absorbing it at all times and as much as we can, we're still searching for authenticity and connection,” she says. “And that can only be established by real people, with real emotions, with the ability to generate real responses.”


Ultimately, with these advancements happening at such a rapid pace, agencies – and creators across all industries – will need to figure out how to make an impact in a world inundated with AI-generated content and where clients have advanced AI tools at their fingertips. You’d be brave to bet against the creatives using their expertise and natural creativity to maintain leading roles in their industries, even if ChatGPT tells us otherwise.

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