It’s been around for decades. However, recently AI has been talked about more than the Big Red Boot and Jacquemus’ “Giant bag race” combined.
From the Drake ft The Weekend AI song Heart on my Sleeve, to Midjouney’s viral Pope in a puffa and the launch of GPT-4, it’s fair to say that AI is getting seriously better at mimicking art directors and copywriters.
But if it’s that good, why aren’t we all leaving our creative partners for it?
We dropped our creative egos, passed the “but machines can’t feel” stage and jumped onto a creative brainstorming session with 170 global McCanners to get the room’s temperature.
Is it time for The G/Jems to break up as dramatically as Oasis in the early 2000s?
Let’s start with a fact: we’re smart. But if it’s true that we’re not “processing the entire written output of humanity” kind of smart, we could argue that AI lacks qualities that make creatives great.
By nature, AI could be considered unoriginal. Creative tools like Midjourney or Chat-GPT are filled with more data than our brains can imagine (all the internet, essentially).
The output you get is based on all this information, so you could say that AI is “stealing” from existing content. However that isn’t necessarily what separates us from the machine.
Don’t we do this too? No brain creates from nothing – we all are, consciously or not, inspired by our experiences, all the images, books, movies and discussions that impacted us.
In the eyes of UK law, copyright protects work that is “original”, which is interpreted as “the author’s own intellectual creation”. But who’s the “author” of AI-generated content? As the machine itself can’t be considered as such, we’re left with two parts: the program creator and the user.
Then, it’s down to the level of prompting – the more human intervention, the more the user is considered a legal owner.
However the question of whether AI-generated content be considered original is probably more down to your personal definition of originality, rather than the law.
Take a look at Korean artist Nam June Paik, who invented video art, and its distorted television images created with magnets. You’d probably consider him as the author of his work – because he is. He didn’t invent the television or the magnet but had the idea to put them together.
Same with Duchamp’s Ready-mades, which noticeably influenced the movement Fluxus, that emphasised the artistic process over the finished product. We could argue that the human prompt is the artistic process, and therefore AI-generated content – “the finished product” – is a new form of art.
It starts to be more problematic when prompts include “in the style of” and as a result, produce pieces that look like a Matisse, or a song written by Nick Cave.
That’s when having a human creative partner is quite useful – contrary to machines, we thrive on originality. We divert each other from the obvious, “prompting” the most irrelevant, random and quite often stupid thoughts and eventually, magic happens.
Some would consider AI’s lack of creativity to be its biggest weakness compared to human creatives, but trust us, it’s not. Not being the most original in the room won’t hurt lives – systematically giving less medical care to black patients will.
That’s right, AI has a few ethical issues to consider. And when we say a few, we mean a lot. You only have to prompt “portrait of someone British” for Midjourney to alienate most of the population – essentially, anyone that isn’t a white man.
Or type a couple of normal symptoms on Google for an AI psychiatrist to diagnose you with a mental illness. And if you ever feel bad for pretending a fact is from “an article” when really, you saw it on TikTok – don’t worry.
Some models have been proven to “guess” when unsure about answers but present them as a fact. Very human of you, ChatGPT. As creatives, we look to disrupt the norm, tearing down social bias and hopefully make significantly positive changes in culture.
But that’s not going to happen when the revolutionary technology that’s supposed to replace your other creative half is wildly behind the times in its progressive thinking.
Then you think about the technology you want to use in your ads, like deepfake. The NBA has jumped on this by launching a simulator where you can scan yourself and replace any player of the game for you.
Cool right? But the same technology can be used to add you into a porno without your consent. In fact, 96% of all deepfake online are non-consensual porn targeting women. With that in mind, a creative partner with a moral compass and the ability to genuinely empathise with others sounds pretty appealing.
Overall, many aspects of the human creative partnership are irreplaceable. Would an AI present to a client instead of you because you are way too hungover? Certainly not.
It won’t laugh at your stupid jokes all day or run to the store to buy you tampons to avoid an incident. It will never be a bridesmaid at your wedding, or the godmother of your child.
A creative partnership is magical, and this will never change. But let’s not ignore AI’s biggest strength, according to ChatGPT itself: speed.
A factor that makes it highly competitive: creative partners might always choose each other over the machine, but what about brands?
Gémina Flores and Jemma Burgess are creatives at McCann London.