4 min read

Bots Will Not Replace Us

Bots Will Not Replace Us
Rosey the Robot Maid is a humanoid robot in The Jetsons, a 1960s animated television series 

By Jaron Gilinsky, Founder and CEO, Storyhunter

I have been following developments of generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, DALL-E, and Descript and am intrigued by the advances I’ve seen in artificial intelligence. We're not quite at the level of Rosey from the Jetsons, who could cry real robot tears, but we’re certainly getting closer to the potential singularity of man and machine.  Like many others, I am extremely concerned for the future of humanity because I recognize that the time will soon arrive when robots surpass humans in all tasks and automate human jobs.

But unlike the fictional character, Rosey, who performed tasks like washing, cleaning, and scratching her boss George Jetson’s back, the actual entrepreneurs unleashing AI into the real world believe  real AI will disrupt creative jobs before anything else. I think they are drinking too much of their own highly artificial beverage (Sorry, Kool Aid, I couldn’t resist).

Listen to Sam Altman, founder of Open AI, who, in an interview with Reed Hoffman, a board member of Open AI, said: "It’s interesting that if you ask people 10 years ago about how AI was going to have an impact, with a lot of confidence from most people, you would’ve heard, first, it’s going to come for the blue-collar jobs working in the factories, truck drivers, whatever. Then it will come for the low-skilled white-collar jobs. Then the very high skill, really high-IQ white collar jobs, like a programmer or whatever. And then very last of all and maybe never, it’s going to take the creative jobs. And it’s going exactly the other direction.”

I beg to differ. As the founder of a company providing tens of thousands of jobs to creators every year, if you ask me whether AI is a potential threat to my company and the livelihoods of our community members, I would say no.  Not yet, at least. I have seen many low-quality AI video generation programs pop up over the years. But text-to-video tools with AI-powered avatars produce videos typically look like this. They lack creativity in any shape or form.  You can tell AI made the videos.I suspect this may change in the future, but I am skeptical that robots will ever compete for jobs requiring true creativity.

Scientists define creativity as “our ability to think in new and original ways to solve problems.” Thus, editing a video to remove the “ums” is not creative. Illustrating a logo that looks like so many other logos is not creative. Making a fantasy architectural rendering based on some inputs is also not creative. Though the end product is a unique piece of content, the actions taken to get there are not a creative process but a process more akin to pattern recognition. The question then becomes: Can we define creativity by the process or the result?

Maybe it's a  good question for ChatGPT because I certainly don’t have an answer.

Upon comparing the output of programs like DALL-E to some lower-level creative services marketplaces (think 99 designs, Fiverr), I believe Altman may be correct. . AI can perform rudimentary tasks and deliver a product on the same level as a human being, which is particularly true when the human who is the stakeholder responsible for approving the work is not going after something exceptionally unique or emotionally compelling. If you are just looking for a simple image, video, logo, or illustration to fill space, get indexed by search engines, or to represent an idea a human can later enhance, AI could certainly do the job.

It’s important not to conflate the delivery of a creative product with the ability to perform a creative process. This creative process is at the heart of real creativity stemming from a process of “divergent thinking” rather than machine learning (essentially the opposite)..  Machine learning involves data and algorithms that learn from modeling patterns and human behavior. And this is  precisely why true creatives will be the last people to have their lunch eaten by bots. "Divergent thinking” is a contrarian way of looking at a problem, whereas AI models find common ways of looking at an issue. The results of these two processes will therefore be wildly different.

That said, for AI technology entrepreneurs to, in the beginning, go after low-level “creative” makes total sense.. It is a low-hanging fruit. But what Altman and Hoffman are grossly underestimating is the chasm between this type of work and high-level creative mastery. Creative mastery requires the creative process to drive toward an original and imaginative product.Trying to  program a bot to achieve a higher level of creative work will be like chasing a forbidden fruit. It simply won't work.

I suspect we will learn much more about our brains and creativity in the future. And I believe a critical component of the creative process also stems from human emotion. In this sense, it is unlike blue collar work, or high IQ white collar jobs like finance. A key element of creative work is grounded in storytelling. Great storytelling is the communication of more than just a narrative or set of events with a beginning, middle, and end. It is the communication of  emotion. It comes from a place not even leading neurologists and psychiatrists can understand today.

Entire industries, like construction, transportation, finance, and even medical and legal, may get disrupted by robots.  However, the creative sector still relies on producing value through the creative process. Replicating  the creative process will require a much deeper understanding of the human brain. We don’t have this knowledge yet, and fortunately, neither do robots. Hence, we have a lot of time before robots take over true high-level creative tasks. Yes, they will alter images, mimic human speech, and answer complex questions, but they won’t, certainly in our lifetimes, edit a film like Werner Herzog, compose a piece of music like Mozart, or paint like Picasso.

True artistic, scientific, and journalistic work can only come from a place of pain, joy, curiosity, or love. It can only come from seeing the world as you see it as a unique individual with your unique perspective. When AI can develop divergent thinking AND feel the range of emotions humans do  every minute of every day, creatives may be out of luck. Until that day, creatives should pursue the highest level of work possible from their  vantage point, pouring in every ounce of their  uniquely human emotion. And this is the best way to defeat a soulless bot and in doing so, keep your job.