The Role Of AI In Creative Work

Loknath Das


It’s hard not to argue that technology aids creative work. This has been true for decades. But in the age of AI, what are the implications for creators as machines become more intertwined in the process?

As AI tools take on more complex tasks, you may assume that creatives are worried about their place in the process. However, a recent survey indicates that’s not the case. Most creators view their creativity as uniquely human and welcome the benefits provided by AI-assisted workflows.

AI Tools In The Creative Industries

During the rise of AI and machine learning, there has been no shortage of tools introduced to creative workflows. In video production, features in Adobe’s editing products like the Content Aware Fill for After Effects and audio Auto Ducking for Audition and Premiere Pro are just a couple of examples of how AI is taking on tedious tasks that once consumed editors’ time.

As CEO of a stock media company, I’ve had a front-row seat to developments unfolding in machine learning. Data science is being utilized to improve search and content surfacing algorithms, reducing the time creatives spend discovering content. Machine learning can detect what content users consider valuable, which informs how to surface that content more and how to recognize similar content.

Intelligent keywording tools, powered by AI, can recognize the content in an image or video and generate suggested keywording. I can’t imagine something less appealing to a creative than spending time and energy writing keywords. It can be easy to gloss over the positive impact metadata has on increased discoverability and monetization. For stock media contributors, YouTubers, or anyone trying to get their work discovered, these tools are a game-changer.

Solving For Creative Bottlenecks 

A 2018 survey of creative professionals commissioned by Adobe found that “74% of respondents noted that they spend more than half their time on tedious, uncreative tasks, which is where they see the most potential for AI and machine learning.”

There are countless examples of how technology has been deployed to streamline the creative process, saving time and money and increasing quality.

It’s difficult and costly to hire a helicopter to capture an aerial shot of New York City, but a creator has the option to license stock media instead. In the case of stock media, the point is to simplify the production process so storytellers can focus on their narrative and craft.

Preparing For A Future With AI 

As we hurtle toward a future where AI is fundamentally integrated into more of our work, it’s time to examine how the creative industry can prepare for this. To fully benefit from what AI can offer, creators should begin to collectively assess where they spend the most time on noncreative tasks.

If you look, you’d be surprised by what’s already available on the market. Connect with other creators in your industry, whether in online forums or with face-to-face networking, to share where you’re spending time on uncreative tasks and learn what kinds of tools others are using.

Or, find your industry news sources and watch for product releases tied to AI features.

Lastly, never underestimate the power of your feedback. Most platform creators actively seek input from their users so they know where the opportunity lies to improve their products.

Creators should prepare for some aspects of their roles to change. Jonathan Follet, a musician and cohost of Creative Next, a podcast that explores the emerging world of AI automation, explains that he utilizes workflow technology such as algorithmic generation of chords and beats, transforming his role as a creator. “I’m no longer the keyboardist, and more the arranger,” Follett shares. “The negotiations around the work we do with AI will shape what the jobs are in the future.”

While the core tasks formerly associated with a creative job might be reduced or even removed by AI, creators that recognize where they are providing real artistic value — and can reinvest in developing their craft — will thrive. Video creators that acknowledges their value is through the unique way they tell a story, not their working knowledge of Premiere Pro, will get ahead.

Of course, what AI brings to the table in the creative industry is not all positive. Some tech insiders predict that deepfake video, an AI technology that allows for superimposing a person’s face onto another subject, will look real in 6-12 months. AI-generated images, while also flawed to the naked eye, are still pretty darn good considering they are being generated from scratch. It’s hard to debate the murkiness of these technologies becoming accessible to the masses.

Creators will also be challenged by copycat artwork — AI-generated art, which mimics the styles of human-produced work. Many argue that this type of work changes the nature of art and creativity.

Finally, there’s a question about whether making creative processes too streamlined impacts some of the magic that comes from “creative accidents” that can inspire and power creative work. Does AI remove the element of unintended discovery?

Even with the challenges, overwhelmingly, creatives do not feel threatened, but empowered by the advent of more AI technology. AI can assist in stretching into more advanced creator tools, but the emotion and the art will continue to come from humans. The technology may shape our jobs, but it doesn’t replace the need for human inspiration.


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