The robots are coming for my job. I can see them on the horizon, I just don’t know how fast they’re moving. If I’m lucky, maybe they’ll run out of batteries along the way.
But I don’t think they will. I think they’ve got energizer bunny batteries.
Everyone knows marketing will be massively impacted by AI. Some of my marketing friends think it has already affected their income, with clients turning to AI instead.
We didn’t expect creative roles to be endangered (yes, I consider marketing to be a creative role). We thought the whole robot-replacement thing was for industrial work, bank tellers, and grocery cashiers.
It crept up on us quietly, and then OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT. Now we’ve had over a year of new AI tools hitting the market and chipping away at tasks we creatives are used to having total ownership of.
The reactions to having our territory invaded are varied.
I see a lot of people in creative roles refusing to engage with AI because they see it as competing with them. Or they look down their noses at it, and talk about how it does a terrible job compared to them.
But I embrace AI, because I like to keep my enemies close 😂
I didn’t know there was any issue at first, I was just playing with my new toys. My first real engagement with AI was with Midjourney, the text-to-image generator – imagine anything, tell AI, and it creates a high-quality image for you in seconds. So. Much. Fun.
I started having even more fun with cloning my voice, video avatars, music generation, and endless fun with ChatGPT.
The fun led me to keep up with what was going on in the AI world. As I kept up with all the developments, I also kept up with the critics, and the potential dangers. I’ve read Nick Bostrom’s book Superintelligence and I don’t want to be turned into a paperclip.
More immediately, I don’t want my job to become irrelevant.
So I need to know what AI is capable of – so I can see where and when I might be replaced, and how I can still make a living. The fear about AI replacing me is one of the reasons I’m so fascinated by it.
All of my experiments and investigations of AI are basically driven by two things: fear and fun.
I talk about the fun a lot in my content, but I don’t talk quite so much about the fear. There’s so much of that about already. But I’m not hiding my head in the sand about it.
It’s just that despite the fears, I have a LOT of fun with AI.
I think that’s just my nature.
A few years back, a friend of mine visited. We made coffee and took it out into the garden. The conversation got pretty intense, about the state of the world, and they asked me how I stayed positive when the world was going to hell in a handbasket.
I thought about it. I looked around the garden, enjoying the sunshine making shadow puppets of the leaves on the trees. I sipped my coffee.
“The world might be a terrible place, humanity might be a scourge, but this cup of coffee is amazing. This conversation is a positive thing. And individual people, like you, are a thing of beauty.”
My views on AI are similar. There are all kinds of dangers associated with it, but should that prevent us from engaging?
Sometimes because I’m having so much fun with AI, people assume I’m 100% gung-ho about it and think it’s a great thing, with no reservations. I have PLENTY of reservations.
But I try to find the joy in the details.
That said, let’s zoom out from those fun details and talk about the hellish aspects of AI for a moment…
The IMF says that AI will affect 40% of jobs, probably worsen inequality, and that we need to take action to protect people from the negative effects.
With that in mind, take a look at this quote from a New York Times article. It’s talking about a presentation Mustafa Suleyman gave to Google when he was working with Deepmind (an AI company Google acquired):
[Suleyman] fretted that as the technology replaced countless jobs in the coming years, the public would accuse Google of stealing their livelihoods. Google would need to share its wealth with the millions who could no longer find work and provide a “universal basic income,” he argued […] But it was pretty clear that his Google guests were not prepared to embark on a redistribution of (their) wealth.
I wish I knew how you and I could exert more influence, to promote the need for not just a universal basic income, but a universal THRIVING income.
Because it’s not certain we’ll get to the point AI replaces us, but what IS certain is that a LOT of very smart people are working very hard to get there.
So as 2024 kicks off, I wondered how imminent is the threat?
Should I be worried about my business this year?
I looked to the 2024 predictions from some globally recognised brands to see what they thought…
Gatner, the big management consulting company, released their marketing predictions for the next few years and said they think AI will increase the need for creative talent, and that it will empower creatives to focus on more strategic tasks.
GenAI will expand creative possibilities by enabling the development of more concepts and creative variations. This will increase CMO spending on agency and in-house creative talent who will focus on more strategic endeavors and orchestrating new ways of using GenAI to stay ahead of the competition.
Erik Brynjolfsson from Stanford university made similar predictions about creative workers, saying that it should be making our jobs better and allow us to do new things we couldn’t have done before.
Rarely will it completely automate any job — it’s mostly going to be augmenting and extending what we can do.
Another global consulting firm, AlixPartners, also said they don’t see creatives being replaced, at least not when it comes to what they called ‘premium content’.
We believe AI should be viewed as a powerful tool that complements the creative process, enhancing productivity and capabilities while a human sits in the driver’s seat. It can streamline tasks, offer insights, and assist in aspects of content creation that require a lower degree of creativity, such as summarizing or simple editing. This will enable creators to focus on artistry and innovation.
And I saved my favourite quote for last. The Nieman Lab, whose sole purpose is to figure out the future of journalism, asked Andrew Golis for his predictions… he’s a senior advisor at Civic News Company:
“Could a robot have done this?” will be a question we ask to push ourselves to be funnier, weirder, more vulnerable, and more creative. And for the funniest, the weirdest, the most vulnerable, and most creative: the gap between what they do and everything else will be huge.
So the experts believe creative jobs to be safe. For now. As long as we use AI to our advantage, to make ourselves more efficient.
AI can streamline our processes, help us brainstorm, handle mundane tasks, and generate content of lower complexity – while we focus on more strategic tasks and amplify the qualities that make us human.
As I reviewed the predictions for the coming years, I felt pretty good about my strengths, and how they fit with what we need to do to stay relevant.
My top 3 strengths, as defined when doing my personal branding work, are that I’m supportive, strategic, and fun.
Here’s why I think they’re going to prove invaluable for 2024.
Supportive, because human-to-human interaction is not yet replaceable by AI, and providing a great one-to-one service with expert human support will still be valued much higher than the level of support AI gives you.
Strategic, because plenty of lower end tasks can be done by AI, but high-level strategy still requires a human expert (even if that human is AI aided). The predictions were pretty much unanimous in seeing creatives needing to focus on strategic tasks to stay relevant.
Fun because we need to amplify our most human traits. I absolutely love ChatGPT, I have a lot of fun using it. But rarely does it produce fun content. And it’s certainly not yet able to experience fun.
So I’ll lean into my strengths, and continue to be cautiously optimistic about our AI future, driven by a heady mix of fear and fun.
I hope you’re getting the balance between fear and fun right. We’d be crazy not to have some fears around AI, but we can’t let it dominate our choices.
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