France in the Year 2000, Jean-Marc Côté
The availability of various AI services has caused a wave of pessimistic predictions on depriving people engaged in intellectual and creative work of their jobs. Copywriters, journalists, publicists, designers, artists – who knows who will be forced to live on the dole, thanks to ChatGPT, Bard, DALL-E 2, DeepDream, Midjourney, and their counterparts.
The recently announced Microsoft 365 Copilot has added online presentation authors to this list, as one of the functions of an AI assistant is to create presentations in PowerPoint upon user request.
Are you scared? If yes, let’s figure out the problem. Firstly, let’s note that nothing fundamentally new is happening. Concerns that progress will deprive people of work have always accompanied progress. The calligraphers-copyists considered book printing a diabolical invention; Luddites smashed machines in the 19th century.
It is no coincidence that the topic of automation anxiety and fear of AI is so widely represented in classic science fiction. Arthur Clarke, Stanislav Lem, James Cameron, Clifford Simak, Ridley Scott, Anne McCaffrey, and many other renowned writers and directors paid tribute to it. But perhaps the author of the well-known laws of robotics, Isaac Asimov, worked out this problem most thoroughly in his works. In his works, one can encounter rebellions of dissatisfied people who are upset that intelligent machines are taking courier and seller jobs, the total dependence of civilization on robots, and many other scenarios of the coexistence of humans and artificial intelligence.
The difference between the discussed situation and those described by the classics is that AI “threatens” people engaged in intellectual work. In Asimov’s works, robots act as servants, workers, drivers, pilots, and even detective assistants. But scientists, writers, politicians, artists, and detectives, with rare exceptions, remain human.
France in the Year 2000, Jean-Marc Côté
Now let’s stop and take a closer look at some activities that we call creative. What is creative about the vast number of collages, texts, videos, and slideshows flooding the internet, compiled from different sources and tailored to technical requirements? How many original headlines or slogans can be created without reworking the fruits of someone else’s creativity? Of course, one can proudly call all of this postmodernism. But let’s admit that a large part of what we conventionally call creativity is secondary reworkings that require minimal intellectual effort.
This applies fully to presentations. It is no coincidence that about 80% of regular presentation attendees consider such events or recordings boring (Presentation Panda). It can’t be otherwise, as today’s presentation content massively consists of banal ideas and images collected from stocks, according to other people’s formulas, and forced into ready-made templates.
Routine is the most significant part of what is traditionally considered creative work today. And in those areas where there is routine, automation is inevitable. AI assistants will take on many template-standard actions, freeing up time for what requires real intellectual effort, reflection, and emotional experience. They are not encroaching on real creativity, at least soon.
As a result, we will get roughly the following scenario in the sphere of online presentation preparation. Those satisfied with the quality will order a “creative product” from AI services. Accordingly, people who know nothing but working with templates and stencils will soon be out of work. AI services can already compile well and quickly; over time, they will learn to do even better. Those hindered by routine see artificial intelligence as a fundamentally new assistant that fully allows them to realize their creative potential.
Yuval Noah Harari, reflecting on progress and its impact on people, once observed that the advent of automobiles did not hurt carriage drivers but rather the horses. The carriage drivers adapted to the new reality by learning to drive cars, especially since they possessed unique knowledge of routes. However, the horses, for the most part, became unnecessary.
A similar situation in the realm of art could be observed a century and a half ago. Futurists of the time, against the backdrop of the development of photography, seriously speculated that artists would be left without work. But real painters did not suffer. Moreover, they embraced photography. However, the number of drafting technicians who produced mediocre drawings for cheap newspapers was drastically reduced.
Another recent example is chess. The advent of programs capable of beating a human did not kill the ancient game but raised the level of training for chess players, although it deprived many mediocre chess coaches of their jobs.
So, what does it take to avoid ending up in the position of horses during the era of automobiles? AI will most likely replace you if your job involves the mass production of standard presentations, texts, or collages according to a technical task. However, AI will serve you faithfully if every new project is a creative search for you.
To sum up, there is no need to fear artificial intelligence; the most sensible decision is to learn to work with it. For those who find a common language with AI, AI services will help to create even brighter, more interesting, and unique works.
Andrey Tkachenko for ROI4Presenter Blog
As a creative experiment, this text was translated, edited, and enriched by a combination of AI tools.