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How generative AI is changing the face of creative work

Generative AI has come a long way in a short time says Professor Hind Benbya, our skills have to evolve to keep up.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been making its way into almost every industry we can think of lately, and there’s a lot of social discourse about where it will stop, and whether it will eventually replace humans altogether. Although AI has been around in some form since the 1960s, it was really only in early 2022 when several generative AI (GenAI) platforms launched to the public, that it generated the buzz we’re experiencing now.

GenAI refers to a new class of AI models that can create original content like text, images, and video, without relying on humans to explicitly program the output. And, while many early commentators were sure that AI could never replace human creativity, questions are now arising about how far GenAI can go, and what it will mean for those doing creative work.

While in its early stages, GenAI has demonstrated an astounding capacity to produce creative works that, until recently, remained firmly in the domain of human artists, writers, composers, and designers. 

A world of new opportunities

Founding Director of the Deakin Centre for AI and the Future of Business, Professor Hind Benbya, has been working on the transformational impact of emerging technologies on knowledge and innovative work for over 20 years. She says that, while early technologies enhanced organisational agility and helped predict outcomes, the ability to generate novel and original ideas has always been considered exclusive to human beings – until now.

'Generative AI solutions such as Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, DALL-E and others expand the scope of creative tasks that can be carried out by AI and challenge our previous assumptions about human and machine creativity, its nature, processes, and outcomes,' says Professor Benbya. 

'Such tools raise many new possibilities and questions regarding whether, and to what extent, AI can meet human creativity and invite us to adopt a fresh look at creative work in the age of generative AI.'

How GenAI is helping creatives now

While AI technologies are still evolving, there are myriad benefits currently being harnessed by creative workers, such as artists, designers, architects, journalists, media, marketing, and advertising executives – especially in the ideation phase, where it can be used to explore new possibilities. 

'The benefits of AI for creative work include its ability to analyse extensive datasets, uncover hidden patterns, relationships, enabling humans to explore new avenues that might have otherwise escaped human consideration,' says Professor Benbya, adding that this type of work allows workers to expand their scope beyond what was previously possible because of limits to cost or human capabilities. 

Creatives are already working with AI to explore new creative solutions. Some examples include architects and designers creating designs more quickly and more accurately than they were capable of before, and journalists using it to collect and corroborate information which can be used to draft sections of news stories, and to generate images illustrating their articles. Artists are also experimenting with AI to generate music, art, poems, and movie scripts which would be difficult to achieve with traditional tools.

Beware of the limitations of GenAI

One challenge for creative workers, however, is algorithmic bias, according to Professor Benbya. 

'The outcomes of the machine learning algorithm can put certain groups at a disadvantage, and we also have the challenges of accountability and who is responsible if the decisions taken by algorithms affect humans in diverse ways,' she says. 

Other risks include the rise of ‘deep fakes’ – that is, realistic but false photos and videos portraying fictitious scenarios that can harm the reputations of real people and real organisations – and that, sometimes, the information provided by GenAI can be just plain wrong.  

'Human oversight is necessary,' says Professor Benbya, adding that it’s important to establish who is responsible for AI-generated content.

'With the rise of AI-generated content, questions are being raised about who owns the copyright to such work. There are also raising concerns around the automation of creative work as it is being considered by some as a threat.'

In order to address public mistrust of content and its origins, transparency and authenticity will be important as we move forward in a world of AI-generated content, says Professor Banya. 

'Whenever GenAI is used to generate some [content or] images, it needs to be made explicit, and information accuracy needs to be verified.'

Where to next?

Professor Benbya says that, while GenAI has come a long way in a short time, it’s up to us to develop our skills alongside it. Although she also adds that AI will never replace the work of creatives. 

'These tools … require both significant human oversights and new skills to be used effectively,” she says.'  As such, learning how to use them would be important for creative workers.

'AI cannot be used to replace humans; they are not intelligent, not good at understanding the intricacies of complex context and situations and, although we see reports claiming that ‘AI meets human creativity tests’, there are diverse forms of creativity related to personal expression and understanding of emotions that will not be amenable to automation.'

Professor Benbya says it’s important for creative workers to engage with AI in areas where it can provide a competitive edge, but also to recognise that these tools are still evolving, and that they need to be used responsibly to ensure transparency and guard against misuse.

'Ultimately, the AI revolution is not about content or image production, but about the assistance that AI can offer throughout the entire creative process.'

Read the article at SSRN: Benbya, H., Strich, F., Tamm, T. 2023. 'Navigating Generative AI Promises and perils for Knowledge and Creative Work' Journal of the Association of Information Systems, forthcoming.

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