Published on May 02, 2023
I read with fascination recently that Levi's are going to start using AI-generated models, as well as real ones.
Any why not. If the AI is any good, then those AI-generated models can take on any size, shape, ethnicity, age or ability that Levi's want, and who knows, the AI could realise who it's marketing to and put that person in the jeans.
Except it seems the main motivation is cash savings. Those pesky models, hair stylists, photographers and the like who demand money in exchange for their years of experience and their knowledge and their know-how, their looks or their ability.
Yes, photo shoots are probably a pain to arrange, and there's probably a significant outlay involved in paying these human beings who generate the photos that adorn these e-commerce websites and billboards, but to replace them with AI-generated images in order to save money?
This is just a snapshot of where we're heading. Previously, I wrote with a degree of fascination about how AI could write blog posts or design training course outlines. On reflection, those training course outlines were a little intense, with AI suggesting that French grammar could be learned in a single hour-long session. My blog post written in AI was a little perfunctory, too.
But with some learning, with some training, AI could effectively replace copywriters and could even start building course outlines. Why not go the whole hog and replace the trainer while you're at it?
There are differing viewpoints on how to approach the whole AI-Will-Replace-Us-All dread.
Firstly, the pessimism above. Yes, it will replace many people. It will replace jobs that could be done by a machine, and it has already started replacing some copywriters. For instance, Buzzfeed, although you could argue that articles such as "Twenty Times Ross Could Have Said He Loved Rachel But Didn't" isn't the culmination of human civilisation, and if people really wanted it, AI can just go ahead and write it.
It will creep in and replace some admin roles. It may replace whole industries we hadn't even thought about, such as the iStock modelling industry, a whole sub-industry where people provide their faces for stock imagery without thinking that one day they'll be on the cover of "Hearing Aids Weekly" while also appearing on a billboard promoting holidays in Barbados.
AI is already integrated into stock image websites, so that people can start requesting their own bespoke stock imagery.
It's just one example, but the more you dig, the more you realise that much of what we do right now can be replaced.
The second viewpoint is optimism. That AI can actually make our work lives easier.
I'm not very good at calendar management, for example. I try, but for the life of me, I just can't sync five calendars and remember to put an entry in for every single item of my life.
But if I had an AI virtual assistant who could pick up times & instructions from my emails and pop a reminder in for me, well - that's a part of my job saved.
ChatGPT is being integrated into the Microsoft Office suite, and this is potentially the one area of AI that we'll all notice more quickly. To have AI populate your spreadsheet for you instead of you having to sit there laboriously filling it out for days on end - well, that's a win.
To have ChatGPT design your powerpoint for you is another quick win. It may even write half the content.
Web developers have taken a more positive attitude as early adopters. ChatGPT can write code, albeit not very well, but it can take on some of the heavy lifting and write chunks of code that are more or less acceptable.
In medical imaging, AI has been around for a little longer, identifying patterns and in some cases, diagnosing cancer with alarmingly high success rates. But you still need a human to deliver the news...
Take an optimistic view, and AI is an assistant, enabling creativity and freeing us up to do more.
And perhaps this is how we should all treat AI. With a little optimism. Because like it or not, Levi's and their competitors will use Artificial Intelligence and they will find ways of saving money by cutting humans out of the equation.
But it's only when humans counter and assert their humanity - their creativity and their collective willpower - that we can see AI as an enabler.
Remember, AI can design a course outline, but it still can't deliver the course. People want to learn from people. People want human experiences, and this is what will keep our jobs and help them evolve into hopefully more valuable and enjoyable jobs. In time, there will be a premium on human-led content ahead of the AI deluge, so a little optimism may help us go a long way.
Published on May 02, 2023 by Gareth Cartman