Everyone’s at least a bit scared of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Whether you're technophobic, fearing an apocalyptic uprising in machines akin to ‘I, Robot’, or a training lawyer seeing GPT-4 beat 90% of your peers in the bar.
Most recently, hundreds of tech experts including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak rallied together and signed an open letter calling for a pause on developing AI tools more advanced than GPT-4. Scary.
But surely the creative roles are safe? Creativity is an innately human characteristic that no robot can replicate, isn’t it…?
Whilst we’re all typing in prompts in an attempt to speed up the menial aspects of our jobs, the impact of AI on various industries is accelerating at a rate of knots.
For most people, creativity and music felt like an area that would remain unaffected. That is until David Guetta caused a stir with his Eminem-style AI deepfake. Since, other major artists such as Drake, The Weeknd, Ye and Oasis have been mimicked by AI - with an unnerving likeness.
It’s not just music either. German photographer Boris Eldagsen refused his prize for winning at the Sony world photography awards, admitting he generated the image using AI. He did it to prove a point; that people wouldn’t identify the plagiarism and accelerate a debate around AI’s impact on “the photo world”. All of these ‘deepfakes’ provide a worrying insight into what the future may look like given the exponential growth of AI that is set to occur over the coming years.
The Human Touch
True creativity remains a human quality that is difficult to replicate. Following his conversation with an AI robot artist (Ai-da), Baz Luhrmann, stated "until she can actually love and dream, I’m not worried”. He believes that AI can help facilitate creative work and do a lot of the grunt work, but will always lack the authentic emotions to fulfill the task completely.
In the words of Keith Richards...
“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones”
We're already seeing the impact generative AI is having on the branding process. With a few simple prompts, brands can generate unique visual identities which can be indistinguishable from the work of a human. But there are some tell-tale signs.
Here's an AI-generated advert for fake pizza brand 'Pepperoni Hug Spot' which was recently circulating on social.
Aside from the creepy mouths and other quality issues, it’s almost believable, if not a little cheesy. However, this is largely due to the relatively novel nature of generative AI. It collects the data available to it and generates output that fits the criteria.
Eventually, almost everyone will be contributing to these systems. However, if people are just creating things based purely on historical information, will we be creating anything new?
The same can be said for sonic branding. When we’re in a ‘discovery phase’ of a project we establish ‘audio cornerstones’. These are descriptors for the brand's core principles, which can be depicted in music and sound e.g. bold, nostalgic, mysterious etc.
Navigating the Intersection of AI and Human Creativity
I’m sure at some point in the not-so-distant future, AI will have a solution for generating music based on audio cornerstones too. But as we've already seen with visual branding, this will lack the human touch that facilitates the emotional connection between brand and consumer.
That doesn’t mean AI has no place in the creative process. We have a product called Ignite that uses AI to benchmark a brand's values against 1000s of commercial tracks, built with the input of over 500,000 consumers.
This roots the brand's audio cornerstones in music that the client already knows and provides clarity on the creative direction. Our sound effectiveness partners, SoundOut, test the creative directions we’re exploring to validate our work and make sure the brief is being hit. They use AI in their products, making the process more efficient and accurate.
When speaking about their new AI-generated product (OnBrand) David Courtier-Dutton, CEO said “Technologies like OnBrand are just another tool that helps brands and agencies ensure that creative directions and music choices being explored are indeed aligned to the core brand values and deliver on the brief”.
So, instead of using AI to create, we should view AI as a creative tool that can help make processes more efficient and the output less subjective. We should view AI as a collaborator, used to steer creativity in the right direction, rather than replacing it altogether.