Artificial intelligence (AI) is now a mainstream topic for public debate. Much of this interest has been prompted by fears for job security or the perception that powerful AI systems might one day pose an existential threat to humanity. After more than a decade of explaining how our corporate clients use AI-based systems to enhance energy production or optimise manufacturing processes, the writers and designers at Copper now find similar technologies knocking at the studio door.
Should we be concerned for our futures, or excited by the possibilities? What does AI mean for content creation?
Generative AI applications such as ChatGPT or Midjourney are set to revolutionise the work done by human “creatives” and re-shape the business communication sector. These sophisticated AI systems can quickly produce new text, images and audio on demand, which brings them right to the heart of content creation.
In the short term, we can expect a surge in AI-assisted content, with digital systems performing basic writing and design tasks more quickly and efficiently than flesh-and-blood creatives. Generative AI can deliver and modify content very quickly, which presents an opportunity to explore a wider range of potential content solutions. Humans will still take responsibility for the conceptual/briefing stage of a creative task where the direction is set and for selecting, correcting and editing AI-generated materials but, overall, creative projects should progress more quickly. There is early evidence that generative AI can lead to increased productivity.
Machine power is already displacing human effort on simple tasks such as drafting emails or blogs. In terms of volume or speed of production, human creators cannot compete. However, applying generative AI without human support might be problematic in other areas. For example, writing a detailed strategy paper that aligns fully with a client’s marketing plan and is tailored to meet the needs of a specific audience in a specific part of the world is a much more nuanced challenge than churning out standard emails.
A further complication is the question of originality surrounding AI-generated content. This has been brought into focus by recent legal actions against prominent generative AI platforms. The claim is that AI art tools are violating copyright law by scraping the work of artists from the web without their consent. Intellectual-property law, as you might expect, has not kept pace with technological advances in AI, and there are fundamental debates to be had about the balance between technical innovation and the rights of human content creators.
It is possible, of course, that clients and audiences will tire of algorithmically generated content. There could be a backlash against AI that creates a two-tier system where ‘human-made’ content commands a premium. Today’s generative models demonstrate remarkable capabilities, but their output is far from perfect and not generally tailored to actual client needs. For example, AI systems can produce text that sounds plausible and polished but contains numerous errors of fact or logic. Customers might well demand greater accuracy from their content providers and prefer to rely on trusted human sources.
If that were the case, humans would maintain a competitive advantage against algorithmic competition. The uniqueness of human creativity, including awareness of social and cultural context, could become an important differentiator. Cultural values can change in very short timeframes, perhaps faster than generative algorithms can be re-trained, so humans maintain a reactive edge that algorithms may be unable to match.
Increasing volumes of AI-generated content will necessitate a growth in content moderation. Without appropriate checks, information platforms could easily be overwhelmed with automatically generated content that is false or misleading. Countering this will require human oversight and effective governance.
Ultimately, it is businesses and society that will decide how much of the creative work is done by AI and how much by humans. Finding the balance is an important challenge and one that will affect everyone who cares about communication or earns a living from copywriting, design or coding. At Copper we have been experimenting with the use of AI systems as part of our creative processes. Our experiences have been positive, but we definitely see generative AI as a tool for writing and design support, not as a way to replace writers and designers.
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