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Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Human Creativity?

4 min read

I'm Jeremy Carson, and this is everything I wish I knew about the advertising and creative industry when I got started. And everything I'm discovering as a Creative Director today.
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If you know anything about me, you know that I love combining tech and creativity. It's what I've done most of my career, blending what lives in the heart and the head. I mean, I call myself a "data-driven creative" for dog's sake.

So, when someone asks me about using AI (artificial intelligence) in creativity, they expect me to champion the idea. To give all the reasons why creatives can and should be replaced, welcoming our mechanical overlords with open arms.

But, they'd be wrong. Well, not completely.

Like I said, I love blending the heart and the head. Creating a combination of logic and art that forms something new. Something better than either could be on their own. But when people talk about AI and creativity, they have a tendency to think it's all or nothing: either humans do the work or machines do.

And when they hear that, they get threatened.

Let Machines Do What Humans Can't (or Don't Want To)

People are fine using AI on the "non-creative" parts of advertising: targeting, media buying, blah blah blah. But it's when it comes to creative, we clutch our pearls.

While I've been at Saatchi & Saatchi, we've used artificial intelligence in a bunch of campaigns already, like the Toyota Mirai, Toyota RAV4, and Toyota Prius Prime. And (be still my heart!) as part of the creative process!

But here's what I noticed: AI is awesome at recognizing patterns in human language and behaviors, so we used it to do that. Take a look at the above campaigns. You'll see that we fed the machines an insane amount of information and it delivered us results faster than any human would've been able to.

Then (and here's the important part), we used human creativity to tell interesting stories around those results.

See, that's the weak link in using AI in any creative field right now: it can regurgitate, echo a pattern, fill in the blanks, or form millions of complex combinations. But in the end, a human is required to make judgements about what's good and what isn't. And a human is needed to actually create something from what the AI finds. AI cannot truly create. But, it can help us create.

That's where we've found the most success: combining human creativity with the scale of technology.

And that's how AI is going to affect creative. Who knows what the distant future holds. But right now, we should look to AI as a tool to guide what we create, or an assistant to determine which creative best fits a person, or to generate millions of potential responses. However, true creativity is still out of reach of machines, so human creatives are safe, for now.

Don't Sleep on AI

Ego has caused most creatives to only hear the last part of that thought: that creativity is beyond technology.

So, instead of using technology to scale their human creativity, to take what they create and personalize it, saying the right thing to the right person, they've dug their heels into a creative process that hasn't changed for almost 75 years.

That's what will hurt them in the future: the resistance to evolve in a constantly changing world.

AI in the Future of Advertising

AI isn't the future of advertising. It's simply another tool that use to create the actual future of advertising: relevant, personalized content. Understanding that each and every individual has different passions, interests, and lives. And then understanding that speaking to them all the same way, telling them all the same exact story, doesn't make sense.

Stories are the most powerful part of what we do, and when you make that story uniquely relevant to the person who's listening, it's exponentially more powerful. And AI helps us know what that is, and how to to make it.

Look Forward, Without Nostalgia

I've always seen success when people remove their egos from the equation. When they look to potential tools and new solutions as ways to help what they do, rather than resisting it to maintain the status quo.

Those campaigns I noted above were incredibly successful. But, if you also look at those examples, you'll see that the AI needed quite a bit of help to make it good. We can't rely solely on the machines to do our bidding. But we can use them to scale what we create.

Mainly because when our mechanical overlords come to conquer us all, they'll be looking for partners. And I'll be the meatbag standing there with open arms

Thanks for reading!

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