Creative AI as a killer of creative jobs? Hold that thought

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Meera Murthy, chief technology officer of OpenAI, caused quite a bit of controversy in a discussion last week when she declared that with generative AI, “some creative jobs may disappear, but they may not be there. Should have been the place.”

While Murthy's remarks were framed in the context of AI helping to boost creative activity, not how many people read it. The pushback was fast and furious. “OpenAI's mission is to create AGI that can replace people in every viable economic activity. Eliminating jobs is the ultimate goal,” wrote Der Obasanjo in an X post.

“Besides that pejorative tone, Murthy asserts that creative AI will make people 'more creative'. But how?” asked Giovanni Colantonio in another X post. “You're not literally creating. A machine makes things for you. It stifles creativity, not fosters it.”

AI advocates “talk about democratizing creativity, but tech doesn't,” Colantonio added. “It discourages people from doing the real creative process of actually bringing an idea to life and instead encourages 'creativity' to be something that can be collected and presented like a Big Mac. “

Is AI, especially creative AI, taking over the jobs of creators as well as tapping into the essence of creativity? Whether it's graphic illustrations, written content, photos, movies, games or other creative activities, can AI create new things at the touch of a button?

It's early, but so far, the evidence points far from it.

“The race for creative talent shows no signs of slowing down in 2024,” noted a talent report published in the first quarter of this year by Robert Half. The majority of creative and marketing managers covered by the placement service, 55%, are “recruiting for new roles from graphic designers to UX designers, while 43% need to recruit for vacant positions. “

Robert Half estimates that at least 200,000 creative jobs will be added to corporate payrolls by 2023. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for graphic designers and web designers was a relatively low 2.6% and 2.9%, respectively.

Yet, beneath what appears to be a solid creative job market lurks uneasiness about its long-term prospects. Nearly seven in ten, 69%, of 4,000 global marketing and creative leaders expressed concern over potential job losses across industries due to AI. A survey by Canva confirms this.

Leaders surveyed also welcomed the addition of AI tools to their activities. At least 69% believe that creative AI is enhancing their teams' creativity. And nearly all, 97%, are satisfied with the rise of generative AI – 72% say they are “very” comfortable and 25% “somewhat” comfortable.

“We're in a golden age of creativity and design right now,” said Deepa Subramaniam, vice president of Adobe, which now supports more than seven billion AI-generated images available through its Firefly models. At the Adobe Summit in March, I posed the question of creative job killing to Subramaniam, who disagrees with such an assessment, and actually predicts an expansion of creative roles.

He said AI provides the ability to rapidly customize and produce art and content on a large scale that today's organizations need. “The appetite for personalized content isn't going to be satiated anytime soon,” he pointed out. It's only going to grow. But creating that volume of content manually, and managing it at scale is really hard, especially in a world where you're marketing globally. There are many languages ​​and cultures that need to be reached.

Generative AI is “taking the stress out of content distribution,” he said. “You still have to come up with creative concepts for marketing campaigns.” But when you have that concept, you need to create it, localize it and personalize it at scale.

To meet these demands, “there are more creative people than ever in all kinds of job roles in all kinds of industries,” Subramaniam added.

For an example of technology's impact on design-based professions, look at engineering, he cited. “Engineering has really grown as an important domain and group of people with the explosion of technology over the last few decades,” he said. “You don't see engineering shrinking.”

The advantage is that the technology takes over many of the mundane, low-level engineering tasks. “Technology and software and coding have taken away the rote calculations, but engineering is only growing, because it opens up the engineering skills to figure out higher and higher complex problems.”

Similarly, in the creative fields, “something similar is happening right now,” Subramaniam continued. “Painful tasks can be eliminated if not completely accelerated by AI, opening up creativity to do that high-level thinking.”

As AI and technology open up more creative avenues, “it will actually invite more people to play more creative roles,” he continued. “Whether it's as a creative professional, as a marketer, in any creative role that digital content is powering our entire world.”

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