Tools touting artificial intelligence (AI) haven’t been around for very long. But that hasn’t stopped companies from taking a leap of faith with them. Some have even attempted to replace humans with ChatGPT or similar apps.
One such experiment came from Sports Illustrated. The venerable publication has allegedly published AI-generated writers and content on its website. They went so far as to source AI author profile pictures as well.
They’re not the first to try this. CNET tested a similar strategy. There’s no doubt that other companies will follow.
The quest for cheap (or free) content is hitting writers. But it could impact all creative professionals in one way or another. Web designers, developers, and graphic artists are among them.
How far might companies go? And what sort of backlash could they face? I have a few thoughts on what might happen.
Let’s Go Hypothetical with Taylor Swift
Just humor me here. I’m trying to imagine the lengths a company might go to save money. And how they might replace a creative professional with AI. Thus, here’s a hypothetical scenario starring Miss Taylor Swift.
Swift is pulling in a massive amount of cash. Her Eras tour has raked in billions of dollars. She’s a media darling and has fans all over the world. She’s irreplaceable – right? Well, it wouldn’t be shocking if someone tried.
Let’s suppose a record label had all of her recorded music. Perhaps they feed these tracks into an AI model. The app “learns” her lyrical style and the tone of her voice.
Now, that record label has a big idea. Their AI model can generate new songs using Swift’s signature style.
They can replicate her voice. Perhaps they don’t want to go that far, though. It will likely have legal ramifications. But they can change things up just enough to sound similar. And that may be enough to produce a hit.
Would fans accept AI-generated music? The song uses a proven formula, after all. Therefore, let’s assume they do.
Playing this song on the radio may work well. But what about a concert tour? People will want to connect with this hot new artist – or a facsimile of one. It’s a key ingredient to a successful brand.
This fictional record label could hire an actor to lip-sync on stage. A modern-day Milli Vanilli, perhaps. But this doesn’t guarantee an Eras-like hit. The problem is in creating a personal connection.
Swift connects with her fans on an authentic level. She has built her reputation over many years. The idea of replacing her with an actor who “visualizes” an AI tune may be a bridge too far for fans. At least, that’s what I’m hoping.
The Question of Long-Term Success
The scenario above may seem ridiculous. But it’s significantly cheaper than paying an artist. And that’s the worry. Companies will be enticed by the possibilities. And they won’t need to work at the scale of a knockoff Taylor Swift.
The quality of the work is another matter. After all, it was relatively easy for humans to pick apart the Sports Illustrated articles. Search engines will probably do the same. Why should Google reward such laziness?
Now, back to our industry. I’ve opined before about AI’s impact on web designers. I believe that people will try all manner of ways to save money. But a great website still requires a human touch.
We may see a cycle similar to that of DIY website builders. People will try them. Some will be dissatisfied with the results. That’s when they’ll seek out a professional. I think the same is possible with AI.
AI tools will surely improve. But are they reliable enough for long-term success? That may be the defining question of this era (see what I did there?)
The Acceptance and Expectations for AI
How or if AI replaces creative professionals may come down to our acceptance and expectations. That goes for both decision-makers and the public.
The latter may inform the former. If the public consumes AI-generated content without complaint, AI will spread like wildfire. Companies will continue to test the boundaries.
But what if conversions and SEO rankings start to plummet? We’ll likely see a change in course.
Much may depend on where AI shows up. Consumers may not blink at “disposable” content like Sports Illustrated generated. But they may demand higher quality from journalistic content.
Expectations also play a role for companies. Will they consider an AI-generated website good enough? Or will they prefer the attention to detail of human designers?
We’re still early in the game. The answers will determine the impact on how creative professionals are valued.
Where Is This All Headed?
I’m betting that AI will become a foundation for many types of projects. Perhaps it seizes the low end of the market. For example, it could spell trouble for those building fast and cheap websites.
But it doesn’t signal the end for skilled humans. Talented people will continue to thrive.
It does feel like a period of adjustment, though. Thus, any feelings of unease are understandable.
I don’t have all the answers. But I hope that continuing to learn and grow will help. In the end, maybe that’s all we can do. Prove our worth time and again.
Meanwhile, we can watch as AI evolves and brings chaos to multiple industries.