Graphic: Rabbit Holes

Too Many People Hate AI for Dumb Reasons (1 of TBD)

... I was one of them, and I Blame the Branding

A “brand” is nothing more than the story the market tells about you, and the story of AI is a complicated mess that might be costing you in opportunity.

Boundary-pushing creatives in various industries are excited to use generative AI as a powerful tool and team-mate. That story has trouble getting out though, because the market is writing the story with AI being packaged and sold as a replacement for creatives.

To be sure, more than a few non-creative types use Chat-GPT or Dall-E in an attempt to not pay copywriters, illustrators, or designers. The resultant linked-in posts etc fully deserve the heckling they receive. However, the market settles for “AI made some CEO look stupid” stories rather than “creative writers write better prompts”. I’ve done it myself. What I should have said is “Trusting AI to be Studs Terkel will make you look stupid.”

Yet, rather than acknowledge their laziness and lack of taste, these same non-creatives go on to vent about the failed promise of AI because it didn’t free them from the tyranny of the creatives and it instead exposed them to the ridicule of the cool-kids. Of course, the people who complain about the quality of their lazily shoveled-out linked-in posts based on buzz-word prompts are the same people who buy the latest iPad with Pencil and then are angry that their drawing hasn’t improved.

Meanwhile, the creatives have their own reasons to hate the companies spearheading the Generative AI push when they see the blatant attempts to devalue their craft and talent as very real threats. Training your LLM by pilfering through and then riffing on the published works of great authors and artists is not only a bad look, it’s an exploitive act. It’s the class bully turning in the homework of the shy kid he just beat up.

However, the geniuses who trained the current crop of LLMs, were just as happy to feed them garbage as they were to feed them art. So the bully is actually turning in a barely dry collage of the world’s greatest art glued to an Ikea box along with front pages from random National Inquirer issues he found in the recycling bin.

What this means for creatives is that writing a good prompt, and providing good direction can result in amazing results, while lazy prompts will generate eight-fingered women from outer space.

Fix the Story

What if we changed the conversation by renaming the issue? What if, instead of saying “AI is going to put artists out of work” we said “The PC is going to put artists out of work”? That was, in fact, a charge made at the dawn of desktop publishing. It was probably yelled about Moveable Type and Kodachrome. The reality is that creative people find creative ways to use new tools to make new art.*

Any company that is pushing AI as a feature of their product, should start by reframing the story. The customer is the hero. The company is the sage. The sage provides AI to tools that make the hero successful in their journey.

Want examples?  Apple just did a good job of a reframed pitch in the recent WWDC Keynote. I’ll have a post on it soon.

* We’ll leave the argument about whether it makes “better” art alone for now, because I’m feeling grumpy about so much modern music.

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