Rise of the Creative Machines

Automation doesn’t just affect manufacturing and production; robots are coming for writers, designers, musicians, and filmmakers. Artificial intelligence and machine learning claims to learn how to create content the same way a human does: study the landscape, find out what works, and attempt to conjure something unique and appealing to the viewer. But is human creation merely a rhythm of remixed and redistributed patterns and rules? We say no, but that isn’t stopping a new generation of entrepreneurs from trying. Whether or not you agree with it, it’s happening right now.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and creative machines are revolutionizing the world of creative content. Or is it? What role does human creativity have in the world of creative machines?

Humanity is the Value in Creativity

Machines cannot replace, or accurately replicate, humans or human thinking or creativity. Chiefly, it can’t give itself goals. Another mark against it is that it lacks ambition; it lacks the desire to both discover and explore truth, and the exploratory nature of creativity cannot be understated.

Although goods can be manufactured in a robotic factory, real craftwork still requires human direction and conception of perfection. Humans are still required to build the foundation that machines are set upon to develop and emulate. And let’s be honest: those free logos suck. If you get one, you’re going to have a bad time. Look at one of the logos they did for us.

It’s difficult for machines to understand what we are. Art, entertainment, and fiction are what humans utilize to interpret reality for each other and communicate truths. AI excels when it works in tandem with humans. Robots are not adept at “solving” the problem of how humans feel about the universe and they hold no value for truth.

Automation is Trying to Write the Future

Rise of the Creative Machines - automation is writing the futureIn 2016, the IBM Watson cognitive platform was used for the first ever AI-created movie trailer for 20th Century Fox’s horror flick, Morgan. Using techniques such as deep learning. Deep learning technology is what’s called a ‘generative model,’ meaning it learns how to mimic the data it’s been trained on,” explains Jason Toy. “If you feed it thousands of paintings and pictures, all of a sudden you have this mathematical system where you can tweak the parameters or the vectors and get brand new creative things similar to what it was trained on.” This is similar to how ChatBots function; the more access they have to resources, the better they can create.

Not even music is safe. Emily Howell, a computer program created by David Cope, writes original works in the style of classical composers. “We’ve already seen poems from AI pass the Turing test. We’ve seen AI art that’s been scored higher than art made by humans. And now of course, it’s composing music,” said musician and digital storyteller Taryn Southern, whose work includes the first-ever album composed and produced by an AI called Amper.

Digital marketing isn’t safe either. Aside from the already-heavily-automated world of digital ad buys, there’s already talk about websites creating themselves by evaluating your text content, line of business, and imagery, to spit out finished pages without your having to lift a finger.

Related Article: Avoid Viral Marketing Fantasies

The Problems with Creative Automation

Rise of the Creative Machines - problemsThe main problem with computer automation is occasionally it gets it wrong. Surprisingly wrong. Creativity is how humans communicate their unique interpretation of reality to each other, so if you replace creative ambition with a dutiful algorithm you end up with things like this. This presents the obvious problem: imagine how “popular content” could be broken down into hundreds of sub-categories. Both Spongebob Squarepants and Breaking Bad are popular, and machines would find it difficult to navigate the cultural, religious, and nuanced world of audience segmentation especially when they are trying to compete mainly on speed and price.

According to one revealing Medium post, certain YouTube channels do away with the human actors to create infinite reconfigurable versions of the same videos over and over again.  Stock animations, audio tracks, and lists of keywords being assembled in their thousands to produce an endless stream of videos. But these configurations can often be violent or involve abuse to kids in an apparent attempt to profit off the sometimes indiscriminate tastes of younger kids. It’s what happens when you have bots trawling for popular keywords and doing what they think is best to make the most effective content.

Some call the era we live in the “age of assistance.” We build increasing technical competence into our tools and making it easier to create great looking content with relatively little effort. It is getting harder to take a really terrible digital photograph, and in correlation the average quality of photographs is rising.  When every art has its out-of-the-box drag-and-drop functionality, how will we distinguish great beauty from an increasingly perfect average? Just look what Adobe Spark has done to social media content.

This is how creative automation spread the way it has: it started with expansive automatic assistance. It started with people like me back in the day screwing around with Photoshop filters and tricking people into thinking I created it from scratch.

It’s the same problem we’ve always had: as storytelling becomes easier and the barriers of entry are lower, our job as creators is now to discover better stories to tell. The creative world of the future will be defined by quality above quantity. As long as we keep that in mind, the machines can get us there faster and never truly overtake us.

AI holds no value in the search for truth and meaning, and will always need humanity as a guide.. Click To Tweet
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Nick Rayner

Nick Rayner

With years of experience in content creation, digital marketing and working with emerging brands, Nick embraces the Social Media and Content Manager role with gusto.

nickrayner has 18 posts and counting.See all posts by nickrayner