Why Using AI Shouldn’t Be Discouraged: Artificial Intelligence Appreciation Day

14 July 2023

Posted in: Agency Culture Digital

July 16th marks Artificial Intelligence Appreciation Day — a time to celebrate AI tech’s history and accomplishments, including some of the creative and efficient ways it’s helping us today.

I caught up with Alistair Clarke, our currently-untitled marketing and automation guy, to discuss the positive impact that AI is having on digital marketing industries and consider why we should be working with AI and not against it.

Let’s quickly recap some AI history, then hear Alistair’s thoughts on the topic.

When did AI first appear?

Believe it or not, AI emerged as a practical consideration back in 1956 when a Dartmouth College workshop launched AI research. And throughout the decades since, the idea of thinking machines has popped up almost everywhere.

Take modern fiction, for example. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein blurs the lines between man-made and human as Doctor Victor Frankenstein creates a ‘being’ that becomes increasingly capable of feelings and develops by learning from others. Sound ever-so-slightly familiar?

Where things went wrong for Frankenstein can be attributed to the reaction from society. Rejection and fear meant the creation wasn’t nurtured in the right way, just as tools such as ChatGPT have had a very mixed reception. That’s not to say we’ll soon have a monster on our hands, of course, but the lesson is clear: if we want AI technology to lead to positive outcomes, we mustn’t fear or shun it.

AI Insights With Alistair

Have you always been interested in AI?

Alistair: “The arrival of ChatGPT rekindled a long-standing interest in automation and AI specifically. I assume that mostly anyone who grew up watching or reading science fiction has some kind of fascination with AI. In my case, though, I was never particularly hooked by apocalyptic scenarios and big robots with guns. I was more interested in real-world considerations and philosophical elements.”

As AI continues to grow, the conversations have moved beyond the fictional realms of sci-fi and film to how it can actually work for us in society, and with that comes some very interesting possibilities.

Can you tell us a little about your transition from Content Lead to a role more focused on AI and marketing? 

Alistair recently made the switch from managing the content team to moving into a role focused on AI and marketing. For many, the thought of AI growing so quickly has been unsettling, so has he had any concerns about it?

Alistair: Initially, the prospect of having my human capacity for literary creativity distilled and replicated at scale was existentially chilling. But as I thought about it more, I started to let go of the doom and gloom outlook, and began to see some possibilities for a role change.” 

Those who embrace AI won’t be replaced by AI, right?

Alistair: “It was understandably jarring when ChatGPT hit the market and made it clear that AI would change the world sooner than many expected, but it helps that we’re all in the same boat. Everyone’s being impacted in the same way, and there’s a long journey ahead of us.”

Has using AI helped you be more creative in your role?

Creativity is one area that has caused a wedge between users and AI, especially those in creative roles. But Alistair has a more positive outlook on things.

Alistair: “I’d definitely say it’s helping me be more creative. If I really think about the full implications, I’ve essentially been handed a massive toolbox that can connect me to far-away systems, and — most significantly, I would say — mitigate the impact of my knowledge gaps.”

There are so many ways that AI can be used to develop your creativity. Need help creating a framework for your blog? Want to experiment with a concept? AI can help! How has AI helped Alistair be more creative?

Alistair: “It’s less important than ever before to know everything about every aspect of what you’re trying to achieve because ChatGPT can fill in the blanks. For instance, with ChatGPT as an aid, I’ve been able to dabble in complex scripting that’s currently outside my skill set. I know enough about programming to understand a reasonable amount of it and see where there’s a clear mistake, but not enough that I could write this stuff from scratch or spool out some complex function.”

What’s been your biggest takeaway from utilising AI more?

While AI can do a whole manner of things, it requires a tried and (properly) tested prompt to deliver what you’re looking for. In other words, it isn’t a quick fix.

Alistair: “The idea people have is that it’s just going to do whatever we want with no issues is completely absurd. Even GPT-4 (which offers a huge leap forward) has a tendency to throw out nonsense or disregard some aspect of a prompt with no warning or trackable reason. It’s all about managing it correctly and ensuring that all the results get properly checked.”

Liv: “Yeah, I think that’s been my biggest takeaway as well. Before I started properly playing around with ChatGPT, I thought it was going to give a perfect response to everything, but I quickly realized it doesn’t all the time.”

Alistair: “Mhmm! The unpredictably is useful in some sense, though, as it would be rather boring if a prompt always yielded the same results. You often need variation.”

What’s been your favourite asset or hack you’ve created using AI?

AI isn’t just useful for streamlining your operations (although that’s a huge plus!), as there have also been some pretty weird and wonderful creations made using AI tools. Alistair knows all too well how to get the best of both worlds!

Alistair: “For general usefulness, I’d definitely point to some Airtable integrations I’ve configured. If someone’s written a blog post and wants some quick social media copy to promote it, the integration can automatically generate and store a relevant sequence of posts. It’s that kind of stuff that is going to be particularly useful for us as a company.” 

“For enjoyment, I’ve put a lot of time into using Midjourney to test prompts and new features. There’s now a zoom-out option that will generate stuff around a generated image, so you can pan in a chosen direction and keep going. I’m really eager to see people generate Renaissance-style paintings with this.”

“I’ve also had a great time using a Discord app implementation of a tool called InsightFace. A big shortcoming of Midjourney is that you can’t train it on a specific face, but you can give InsightFace just one photo and it can add that face to any image you provide, whether it’s one you generated or one you uploaded.”

“It isn’t perfect, but it’s still really impressive, and a bit of post-production work in Photoshop can yield spectacular results. I’ve just been putting my friends’ faces on different people and trying to make them as convincing as possible.”

Liv: “Yeah, I think for me the AI image revolution has been one of the most interesting things that’s come out of the AI surge. I’ve seen people recreate famous film posters and do some other really cool things.”

I set Alistair the challenge of working on an image of the Seeker team. This, unfortunately, is what resulted:

Should AI be encouraged?

The worst thing you can do is hide away from a new development, whether it’s AI or something else taking over your specific industry. If you instead harness it, there’s so much you can achieve.

Alistair: “I’ll always have mixed thoughts on AI image generation because I do understand it from the perspective of artists in the same way that I had that fear about writing. If you’re someone who’s put years of your life into learning how to paint then it’s gonna suck, but there’s no way of going back to before it existed. All we can do is try to accept that and support real creatives wherever possible.” 

Job security is a big concern. However, Alistair believes AI can assist us rather than replace us.

Alistair: “A big thing for me in trying to spearhead automation efforts is that I don’t want to replace people. AI can be used to boost creativity (by coming up with initial ideas, for instance), then you can use it as a foundation for your work and hopefully end up having more interesting tasks as a result!”

“I want everyone to have opportunities to be creative and do interesting things using these tools, because even if I’m using a tool like ChatGPT to help me program a function, the core elements (what it’s going to do and how it’s going to work) are up to me.”

Want to hear more AI insights? Check out our recent AI chat on The Future of Link Building with our Head of SEO Annika and Managing Director Gareth!

And if you’re interested in harnessing AI, our new AI SEO service can help you streamline your workflows and future-proof your organic plan! Contact us today.

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