I want to let you in on a secret. The theme music we used for two years for the Edelman technology podcast Sideload wasn’t made by a musician. It was made by a robot.
The process was straightforward. We told the service (the currently dormant Jukedeck) the genre we wanted, the length, the mood – even the point at which the drop happened. Surely a creative activity like making music shouldn’t be so ‘paint by numbers’, should it?
We’ve since changed our music, but the talking point remains. We’re already used to AI becoming more involved in various aspects of business and everyday life. It powers our smart speakers, it recommends the things we buy, and it controls the heating systems in our homes and offices. These are all routine decision-based manifestations of AI. But when it threatens the very creativity of humanity, we could have an issue in the future.
Take filmmaking for example. It’s a hugely creative industry but also one where there’s a lot at stake. Nothing hurts more than a box office flop that has had millions invested into it. It was interesting to read an article in the Guardian then about AI being used increasingly in the industry. Currently, AI solutions such as Cinelytic and Scriptbook can predict the success of a script, cast or structure with an accuracy rate of 85%. This is what will increasingly be used to create films in the future and can legitimately be called a breakthrough. Humans can only muster an accuracy rate of around 30%.
Although we can’t properly go full steam ahead and let the AI write the entire script, it can only be a matter of time.
The reason AI was initially heralded as a gamechanger was because of its ability to do the dirty jobs humans generally don’t like to do - and do so in record time. It would give us all the insights we need to make grown-up decisions with potentially millions of pounds on the line. But is AI going far beyond its pay grade when it can make music, write scripts and even paint pictures? And if so, should the labour market be running scared?
The future isn’t fully dictated by the capability of tomorrow’s technology, it’s also shaped by how we see ourselves at work and in society. If our role is merely functional, there is a danger we could be replaced by robots in the future. But if we see ourselves as innovators, we will always be relevant – no matter how advanced the technology gets.
Innovation and creativity go hand in hand. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist,” said Pablo Picasso. If - by definition - computer algorithms are based on rules and historical data, AI-produced art may evolve over time but will it ever be able to truly break the mould? I don’t think it will.
AI shouldn’t make us worry; it should challenge us to be better. Do things that computers can never do and celebrate the unique qualities of the human mind. The creative brain is difficult to outsource and as such, the functions it can carry out should always be entrusted to humans for the most original pieces of art.