If you haven’t heard about AI in the last couple of months, you may be living under a rock. AI is currently a blazing topic. Between news coverage about new writing tools, social media filters, and eliminating general tasks, it's hard to go one day without a reference to AI technology, its applications, or how it will change the future. You've probably asked yourself how these tools could be used for your business. We'll cover some of these AIs and how they can have a role in your business.
What is AI?
AI is short for artificial intelligence. In current conversations, it doesn't refer to the malevolent machines of the Matrix or the tragic replicants of Blade Runner. These AI aren't sentient, despite some more sensational headlines out there. We like to think of it as programs that are developed with machine learning to improve their own programming and functionality. While the press uses the catch-all of "AI", it's a little more complicated.
Programs with machine learning have been used in the background of countless software and websites for years. These run the various algorithms that learn users' preferences or operate various chatbots meant to optimize the user experience. Because they're on the backend, they're also less flashy than the generative AI creating, sometimes literally, headlines. Generative AI refers to learning programs that are used to generate new verbal, visual, or audio content. These are OpenAI's ChatGPT and Dall-E, Midjourney, or the countless social media filters that have gained so much attention. Provided a prompt, they then create pretty great content.
These AIs are language and visual models. They are trained by being given a mass amount of content and develop associations and connections to then try and answer in words or images. As a result, ChatGPT is really just a much more complex version of predictive text. Rather than predicting the next word for a sentence, it generates complete sentences, paragraphs, poems, lines of code, and even more. Similarly, Midjourney and Dall-E don't understand the intricate images they generate. That was why hands were often generated with an inhuman number of fingers in their earlier stages. Have you seen these? Hilarious! The visual models developed an association of the hand's palm and fingers as shapes but didn't associate specifically five fingers to a hand. Have you also seen this AI-generated video of Will Smith eating Pasta? It’s a trip!
The Uses and Limitations of AI for Your Business
These generative AI or language and visual models are already powerful tools. ChatGPT can generate full write-ups on a topic or change the tone of an email. MidJourney and Dall-E can create unique visuals. They're also being developed at lightning speed and improving their functionality. As a result, they naturally have some great content generation applications for having a role in your business. These AI tools can help you write simple text or create images without having an employee dedicate all that time. Their near instantaneous speed also means you can get these materials faster.
However, those applications come with some serious limitations and caveats. Some are suggesting that these AIs spell the end of writers and artists, but certainly not in terms of quality. AIs are trained on products of human creativity, not the content AIs create. The content is too derivative of that training data. That same training on a vast amount of written and visual content leads to a general blend in the content they generate. That means an AI cannot recreate your brand’s specific and individual style and voice. Currently, AIs don't match human skill and artistry. More importantly, they aren't capable of creativity. Relying too exclusively on AI for your business’ content will deprive it of its human element and damage your brand by dehumanizing it.
AI’s Role in Your Business
The capabilities along with these limitations mean AI might have a role in your business operations, but like any tool, it has its specific uses. Rather than making these AIs responsible for the full artistic process, they can be helpful tools in the first creative steps such as brainstorming or getting inspiration. Providing prompts can yield a variety of results which can then inspire you or your employees to create content that is more specifically appropriate for your brand and business. AIs are currently best for creating content that is low-stakes, such as for minor social media posts or short write-ups. AIs can speed up the process, allowing your business to dedicate more time to creating other, more complex project outcomes.
You can also expand that role to create more complex works. ChatGPT and other language models can be helpful writers, but the content they create needs to be edited by an actual human. Their writing often contains mistakes and impersonal, generalized information. Similarly, be mindful of visual oddities in image generators. While the main subject is often well-defined and formed, background elements can be blurry, strange, or even horrific (remember the Will Smith video?). As a result, while AIs might help kickstart the creative process, they still require the time and effort of someone with the necessary visual skills to refine the creation.
The Value of Human Creativity
Because of the need for human scrutiny and editing, it might be better to start the creative process for more complex works without the programs. Remember that AIs are trained on countless works already created by humans. Combining all that material produces a formulaic and generic piece of content. Everything an AI creates is inherently unoriginal. If you want content that inspires and reflects your brand's human individuality, you will need human creativity to do that. AIs, for now, instead play the role of helping speed up minor tasks and sparking that creativity.
Giving AI a Role in Your Business
How exactly your business can adapt and start using generative AIs will highly depend on your business. When you adopt any tool into a workflow, it will take time to discover its best applications. AI will certainly help the creative process, but it is not ready to take over (unless you want to generalize your business and not stand out). Wondering how AI might specifically work for your business, our strategic consulting will help find its best applications.
Note: this article is 100% written by a human.