It’s Nice That has launched a new series called Shades of Intelligence, which explores the ‘creative industry’s growing relationship with artificial intelligence’. The first instalment, written by Lucy Bourton, offers an overview of how creatives have responded to AI so far.

83% of creatives are already using machine learning tools.

Despite this being the majority of us, whether or not creatives should get on board with AI is ‘one of the most divisive questions our industry has ever faced.’

It’s true that the use of AI has divided creatives, and it’s easy to understand why. While some feel that AI can be used to support their craft, others are wary of the threat that AI might pose to their jobs. For the first time, there are fears that human creativity will, one day, become obsolete. Despite these reported fears, the fact that 83% of us are already using these tools shows that curiosity has already won most of us over.

It’s Nice That surveyed the opinions of a range of creatives, and here’s what the stats say:

Across the breadth of creatives who responded to our survey, an overwhelming majority (83%) have already adopted AI into their working practices. Almost half (49%) say they have used these tools in the past week alone, while 33% have done so in the past six months. Yet, across disciplines, opinions are divided. When offered a multiple-choice selection on their overall feelings towards AI, 56% of our respondents describe their feelings as curious, with 41% saying they are excited about the opportunities such technologies present for the future. Those who lean more sceptical, however, are not far behind: 36% of respondents believe that AI’s capabilities are overhyped, and 26% say they feel it’s a terrible development for creativity overall.

These numbers reflect the diversity within the creative industries: showing that not all creatives can be painted with the same brush when it comes to this topic. With such a significant percentage of respondents believing machine learning tools to be a ‘terrible development’, it’s clear that not all of those who have tried AI have been convinced of its positive benefits. It does seem that the general opinion of respondents leans more positive, however.

It’s particularly interesting to note how responses differ across disciplines and types of work. For example, ‘[T]hose who work in-house at agencies or studios are more likely than the average to have recently used AI tools.’

Respondents working as strategists were the most likely to use AI tools (78%), whereas those working in film seem to use AI the least (33% of respondents working in film had never used AI). It seems senior members of staff are using AI more than anyone else, with those in the 36–50 age bracket appearing to be the most interested in the possibilities that AI offers.

But how are creatives using AI at the moment?

From an overall perspective, creatives believe AI’s most important role lies in idea generation, with 38% of respondents singling this out. Yet respondents appear to be less enthusiastic about AI’s capabilities when it comes to the final outcome phase of a project, such as product development (6%), final production stages (6%) and marketing and communications (6%).

This makes sense, given that there are concerns around originality and homogeneity in the creative industries due to the inception of AI tools.

However, idea generation is where one of AI’s greatest controversies lies for creatives.

If AI’s capabilities are proving to be most helpful to creatives during idea generation, a larger ethical question presents itself when we consider the data feeding these tools. One of the dominant concerns around AI is how and whose creative work is being used in visual data sets, posing a minefield of copyright challenges. It’s also a topic which divided opinion amongst our survey’s respondents. Only a slight majority (54%) say they would be happy for their work to feature in a data set used by their peers, while 40% stated that they would only be comfortable with their work being used in this way if they were credited. A higher percentage of respondents (46%) are not comfortable with the idea at all.

Again, discipline becomes relevant here, with filmmakers and illustrators being the most uncomfortable with their work being used to train an AI tool. However, the majority of photographers surveyed said they would be happy for their work to be included. This ethical problem will only become more relevant as AI continues to grow and advance.

When asked to share their major concerns about AI, 37% of respondents were wary of how AI may affect creative industry jobs. Other big concerns included copyright issues and the possibility of losing control of AI in the future. Once again, however, the majority of respondents were hopeful about AI overall.

80% of our respondents say that, in a dream world, they’d like AI to support them in performing menial tasks, providing space to concentrate on being creative.

All creatives must choose for themselves whether they feel it is right for them to incorporate AI into their practice, but at Novagram we have found that AI tools can be beneficial: supporting our creativity and playing a part in problem-solving.

We are Novagram, a UK creative agency
specialising in branding, design and digital development