Illustration Ashley Siebels
Many of us are increasingly aware of our approaching obsolescence. Two-thirds of Americans believe that robots will be doing the jobs of humans in 50 years. But creative professionals are more optimistic than most Americans about their jobs in this future.
In a new Adobe report that interviewed 75 working creatives in the U.S., U.K., and German, the report found that the majority of artists, designers, motion graphics specialists and illustrators did not feel threatened by robots taking their jobs. Fifty-four percent of respondents said that they were “not at all” afraid about artificial intelligence threatening their job. Creatives highlighted the possibilities within machine learning more than the concerns. This optimism came from the hope that art was uniquely human.
“Creativity is a process and a life journey in which technologies like A.I. can enhance human creativity, but cannot replace a human’s creative spark,” Andreas Pfeiffer, president of Pfeiffer Consulting, who conducted the interviews with respondents, said.
Robots could free up time for creativity, but could also create new constraints
In the artists’ most optimistic view, artificial intelligence will free up time for artists to brainstorm and be creative. Seventy-four percent of respondents said that they spend more than half their time on “tedious, uncreative” tasks and it is in this area where they see the most potential for machine learning to take over. More than three in four respondents said they would use an AI assistant to help out with image search.
But creatives did express concerns about how workflows could change when artificial intelligence enters their industry. Having A.I. could homogenize what gets produced and how it gets done. “The threat of AI: Being reliant on doing/creating something for its own sake, instead of considering why we are doing it,” creative director Joe Lovelock said.
When machine learning makes doing art easier to make and release, the definition of what creativity can be will need to expand too. There are already computer-generated Christmas music songs and computer-generated novels. Google Brain researchers have even taught a neural network how to sketch drawings. For some artists, machine learning creates interesting constraints for artists to work against in their work. A group of artists, for example, created portraits that cannot be detected by face detection algorithms.
These are examples of the challenges to come with the convenience of automated art. When it becomes harder for the untrained eye to tell the difference between a human’s art and machine’s, artists will need to think up new ways to express their human authenticity.