We need to talk about A.I.
(Illustration by Lucinda Schreiber + Photoplay)
Written by Photoplay.
After a few disturbing brushes with Chatbots and generative artificial intelligence programs like Midjourney we realised the need to address the growing elephant in the room… A.I. stepping into writers’ and visual artists’ seats and well beyond.
As a group of filmmakers who founded a production company over 12 years ago, we’ve been on a journey that’s made us cherish the craft involved in the process of what we do as creators and filmmakers more and more. The recent big step of A.I. into the creative sphere (rather than where it was expected) poses an existential challenge for all of us.
This is not by any means an outright rejection of all things A.I. This shouldn’t be mistaken for luddism, we’re aware that in its many and varied forms A.I. is inextricably linked to our working lives and practices. It’s more a chance to acknowledge the people who have gotten us here and recognise them for their work, talent, professionalism, friendships and loyalty. And we intend to continue to foster and develop these working relationships as we step forward into a rapidly accelerating future… together.
Our feeling is that commercial creative industries at large are in urgent, dire need of debate and policies to guide us through this A.I. minefield and safeguard the arts.
We wanted to spur this debate by putting out there our own Photoplay stance on A.I… so here goes:
Made by humans for humans.
At Photoplay we are committed to making and telling human stories with and for actual, real-life, humans. Over the years, our company has built working relationships with some of the best artists and craftspeople in the industry. In light of the recent uptick in artificial intelligence being used to replace real people in our industry, and as one of the country’s leading boutique production companies, we feel it is important to share Photoplay’s stance on the matter—at least as to how it is used in the photography and filmmaking process.
There is obviously an ethical question at play when using a machine that is designed to mimic the work of others. There is also the issue of ownership over work generated by A.I. as the copyright cannot be legally owned. But, perhaps most significantly, it is the existential question it raises to all of us as creators. Do we not learn something new about ourselves with every new thing we make—every new story we tell? What do we actually gain by giving that process away? The automation of labour may result in a cheaper product but it will never result in a more meaningful one.
That being said, we support the use of A.I. where it helps our human colleagues—not replaces them. The best of both worlds.
And so, we would like to make it known to all future collaborators that Photoplay is committed to original ideas, award-winning craftsmanship and human creativity. We desire to be imitated—not imitators—and will therefore continue to create the highest standard of work with the most talented humans the film industry has to offer.
In short, we’d rather be nourishing the machine than sifting through its toilet.
And no, we didn’t use ChatGPT to write this.
Art News, US Copyright Office: AI Generated Works Are Not Eligible for Copyright
The New York Times, Will a Chatbot write the next ‘Succession’?
The New York Times, ‘The Godfather of A.I.’ Leaves Google and Warns of Danger Ahead
The New Yorker, Nick Cave on the Fragility of Life
The Unesco Courier, Humans, Not Machines, Create Meaning
The Verge, Levi’s will test AI-generated clothing models to ‘increase diversity’
The Saturday Paper – Calls to regulate Orwellian AI
Bravo. And very seriously, we -should- have a chat about A.I. before we use it endlessly pitching on new clients who then decide they don’t need nor want us anymore.
Ha ha ha ha. ‘Rather be nourishing the machine than sifting through its toilet.’ Bang on the money there.
Glad to see a creative company getting this much needed conversation started. What is everyone else thinking?
I thought it was currently in the courts in USA as to whether you can/cant copywrite something made with AI.
@Hender, yeah there’s 3 artists in the USA currently suing the AI companies for copyright infringement, see here: https://news.artnet.com/art-world/class-action-lawsuit-ai-generators-deviantart-midjourney-stable-diffusion-2246770
At the moment the US government said you can’t own copyright in any AI creations (& the EU is putting legislation in place right now) so this is currently being worked through the government & the courts… part of the issue is that Copyright does not protect ‘ideas’ until the idea is committed into some form (ie: written down and published), so if the AI is generating the ‘form’ it doesn’t pass to the person punching in the text prompts.
Years ago the desktop computer was introduced to the world and it completely destroyed the whole industry of typesetting and letraset.
But at the same time the years that followed saw massive creative leaps forward in what was possible with typography.. yes we lost one
industry but we created a whole new one and pushed creative boundaries as we did. In the bigger picture computers where not the end they
where the beginning, a much needed shift and jolt to multiple industries.
A.I is a powerful TOOL that can, if used correctly, enhance creativity and yes it will replace some jobs that’s inevitable.
AI will lead to a whole new breakthrough in creativity across multiple industries and create entire new industries we cant see yet.
AI does nothing that a good digital artists and illustrator cant. It just does it via prompts in a teenagers bedroom.
@The Future this may be true… who knows. If AI leads to a “whole new breakthrough in creativity…. and creates entire new industries” then that’s pretty damn exciting. Here’s hoping!
I just think we need to be self-aware, take a moment to debate the best ways to use AI and the ways we shouldn’t be allowed to use it (ie: creating false photographic news). Debate it and consider it, rather than blindly embracing it all.
@The Future – as a TOOL I think this article agrees with you. The issue seems to be where the A.I. is showing up in creative processes to mimic the real people it’s replacing without giving them credit or renumeration. Streamlining processes is one thing, replacing creators with imitators is another. This isn’t like your other examples where job-titles shifted and work went elsewhere. This is “instead of” leaving no place for humans to coexist. A.I is moving so quickly that it isn’t hard to imagine an industry–that is already as undervalued as ours–being entirely bypassed in favour of a path that promises a result that “looks just like” one humans could have created. Good on production companies like Photoplay for starting this conversation before it’s too late. A.I will start by plucking the lowest hanging fruits but it seems to have it’s heart set on the entire orchard…
I can guarantee you’ll have AI artists on your site within a year and I have screen-grabbed this thread to remind you of your stance after you smell the money and backflip on this immediately. Don’t pretend to ride the craft high road for the sake of cheap PR.
How can something that steals from original creators for the gain of large corporates ever be used “correctly”?
It fundamentally can’t.
Naomi Klein sums it up best:
I think you just described a large part of the advertising industry haha
if the argument against AI is that AI mimics other artists …. haven’t artists been mimicking other artists since time began.. its almost a daily comment on this site alone how one campaign looks like another or “steels” from another .. Creativity is a remix.
The Term A.I is now too broad a term to think we can apply blanket rules to it and yes we should tread this road carefully. But regulating AI is going to lead to a lot of hypocritical discussions. Yes we should use A.I in medicine to help save lives at the expense of millions of jobs worldwide but we shouldn’t embrace A.I as a creative tool as it will upset someone’s feelings.
@ Its already too late, it’s a interesting point you make here…
“Yes we should use A.I in medicine to help save lives at the expense of millions of jobs worldwide but we shouldn’t embrace A.I as a creative tool as it will upset someone’s feelings.” I can see the point to saving lives through medicine sure, but creative art… isn’t the point of art inherently human? Using it as a tool sure, but replacing the artists themselves is pointless. Literally. A.I. mimics the process and is cheaper and faster yes, but will you ever want to wander through an art gallery of purely A.I. creations?
Advertising and Art are two very different things yes both are creative ( sometimes not so much ) but yes this is the rabbit hole we are about to go down because we have to start defining things like what exactly is ART, what is Advertising, what is Design what is Copyrighting what is Production, What is reference, What is homage, WHAT IS CREATIVITY .. etc to then even begin applying guidelines for A.I and its uses.
I really enjoyed this article and the conversation it sparked. Lots of food for thought. One thing is for sure – interesting times ahead.
I think you are missing the point. Advertising is, by it’s inherent nature, is designed to create a desire in a consumer to engage with a product that they may or may not need. It is in no way linked to art, no matter how much we would like it to be. Thus, AI is perfectly situated to execute this need, way more astutely than a human perceiving to tell a ‘story’ ever could. Accepting your role in the process sooner rather than later will allow you to at least hold on to the dwindling financial threads that exist.
Andy’s right, and I’ve been using AI to create for a while now. It was all good fun until the money got involved.
I find it incredibly interesting that the things AI would be great at – booking a meeting room, organising coffee, trawling the web for insights, taking notes during a meeting, finance, paying creatives on time – are the things that it currently doesn’t seem to be a threat to. But the genuine observation of human behaviour, the creative leap, the emotion-led copy, the feel that drives the art direction, the intuition, the performance – oh yeah, that’s under threat. Because we need seven suits to organise coffee and not take meeting notes, but we sure as sh*t don’t need creatives and directors collaborating to come up with true human ideas.
If you’re going to replace humans with robots, at least replace the f*cking robots first.
I don’t think the writer of the original article is trying to say advertising is art. I assume the reference to artists is specific to illustrators, storyboard artists and alike whose jobs are currently the most affected by programs like Midjourney etc. I agree that advertising isn’t Art. And yet, at least up until now, advertising has still felt like a part of the greater human dialogue. The occasional, spark of unexpected humanity that perks up in an ad (of all places) is a reminder that people somewhere in the making of the commercial product are at least thinking imaginatively about it – and maybe even investing something of their human experience in the thing. As a creator AND a consumer – if you can’t be bothered to write something – why should I care to read it? If you didn’t make it–why should I look at it? If you yourself don’t have human needs – why should I buy something from you? Maybe it’s the end of advertising. Maybe that’s a good thing. I’m sure a lot of brands would disagree. And for a lot of creatives the ad-thing is something they do to support their art for art’s sake (which people stopped valuing decades ago). Embracing A.I. as an alternative to real people in creative industries is cannibalism of more than just a pay check.
To replace creatives with AI, clients will need to accurately describe what they’re looking for. Perhaps we’re safe.
A copywriter once said to me ‘If only I knew how to use Photoshop, then I’d be an Art Director’ to which I shot back ‘If only I knew how to use Microsoft Word, then I’d be a famous author.’ Knowing how to use AI won’t make you an art director or a writer of any distinction. It may make you a better one, but it won’t make you creative.
A.I does some decent stuff
I’m happy for my work / style to be used as inspiration for AI and to see work that looks strikingly like mine out there. It’s only going to make me work to create something better, more creative, more clever, more unmistakably human.
Seriously though. This industry is a joke already. Suits ruining everything. Yessing every client’s stupid whim and bending over at the drop of an email. Don’t blame AI , blame the suits that will throw every creative into the heap if it means a YES for a client and a promotion for performing a set of KPI’s. If anyone here is stupid enough to believe that a creative has an autonomy over their career they’re deluded. Have a nice day.
I too have screen grabbed this post and look forward to re-sharing this once you sign a suite of AI artists.
Great to have such healthy debate. AI is here and we should embrace it and find new ways of working.
Well said and well reacted.