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AI Text-to-Image Generators: Job Killers or Friendly Robot Assistants?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the phrase artificial intelligence? For me, it’s always HAL 9000 (that sinister sentient computer from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey).

Though movies and pop culture tend to cast it in evil roles (see Ex Machina, Terminator, Old Glory Insurance), AI in the real world is much more nuanced. You can read many stories on this site about how content marketers use AI as a tool to assist with writing and optimizing content. You’ll also see plenty of articles asking whether AI will take writers’ jobs.

Now, creatives are grappling with the reality of AI-generated art and design.

A New York Times story recently recounted the uproar from artists when the Colorado State Fair awarded a blue-ribbon prize to an AI-generated artwork. Jason M. Allen, who entered the piece in a category for emerging digital artists, used a program from Midjourney to create the images.

Like Midjourney, OpenAI’s DALL·E 2 lets people use natural language requests to return AI-generated images. This is such a big deal that we dedicated an episode of The Creative Show to exploring DALL·E 2’s impact on creativity and creative professions.

Content strategist and comic book author Buddy Scalera, who co-hosts the show, declared: “It will revolutionize the way we as creators think about creating original content.”

Watch the episode (or read the highlights below) and let me know your thoughts on the future of AI and creativity. You can drop them in the comments below. Or meet me and Buddy for a drink and a draw at Content Marketing World 2022 in Cleveland.

@OpenAI's DALL·E 2 will revolutionize how creators think about crafting original #content, say @BuddyScalera and @JKKalinowski via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

How do text-to-image generators work?

Let’s say you’re sitting there trying to come up with an image for your blog post. You think, “Hey, I need a picture of a cat wearing a tutu.”

So you type this prompt “cat dancing, hood of car, tutu” into the interface. Next thing you know, DALL·E 2 shoots out four or five versions of images with cats in tutus dancing on a car.

It’s crazy how creative “the machine” can be because it’s continually learning – scouring the web and other images.

Will DALL·E 2 and other AI image generators replace illustrators and designers?

It has people in the design field a little nervous because that’s what they do.

Companies hire illustrators and creatives to create images and unique designs for their campaigns, products, and communities. And to have somebody say, “Use this program and the computer will make it for you. Then you don’t have to go back and forth with an artist,” that’s a little grim.

But I don’t think people will say goodbye to their designers. As Buddy mentions in the show, the introduction of Canva and other do-it-yourself design programs raised similar questions in their early days.

But Canva didn’t put web designers out of business. It just supplemented what was already available.

I recently read an article an illustrator wrote for the American Institute of Graphic Arts. It said, basically, if you think your clients will leave you for AI, then get new clients. If clients trust you as an artist and you trust them as clients, they’re going to value the stable relationship.

Brands aren’t going to replace their designers with #AI. If they trust you as an artist, they’ll value the relationship, says @JKKalinowski via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Is it ready for primetime?

Buddy and I looked closely at DALL·E 2’s user agreement and found the answer: Not yet.

For one thing, the user agreement states you can only use DALL·E 2 for non-commercial purposes. That means you can’t use images you generate with it on your website or in your campaigns.

It also says you can’t use the technology to create deep fakes, so it’s encouraging that the creators have thought about ways the tech could be used for harm and how to deter that.

But there are still many gray areas around AI-generated images that should be answered first.

Say you ask for that picture of a cat in a tutu dancing on the hood of a car. What if someone else had asked for the same image before you did? Who owns the image?

A 2019 court case stated that images created by computers or artificial intelligence can’t be copyrighted (and the U.S. Copyright Office just recently upheld that decision).

With the technology and its use changing so quickly, who knows if that will always be true?

Will AI help or hurt inclusivity?

During this episode’s livestream, viewers asked great questions. One asked whether OpenAI (DALL·E 2’s creator) is working to avoid the racism and other problems plaguing Facebook’s AI chatbot. Another asked how DALL·E 2 manages skin tone.

If you type in “nurse,” for example, will you always get a white woman?

OpenAI already has had to mitigate apparent bias in DALL·E 2 results.

Learn with us

So many questions about AI and creativity remain unanswered. Does AI spell the end for creative careers? I don’t think so. Will it become another tool in the creative palette? Almost certainly.

Though the destination isn’t yet clear, we’re along for the ride. Buddy and I both got accepted into the DALL·E 2 beta program, and we’re excited to share our learnings with you.

To paraphrase one of the great AI villains, I’ll be back.

Related news:

It’s not too late to join JK Kalinowski, Buddy Scalera, and other creatives at Content Marketing World. Register today for the in-person or online event, and use promo code BLOG100 to save $100.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute