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  • Writer's pictureJames Pelz

The AI is coming for me, and that only makes me more valuable.

I get it. The new toy is cool. It’s shiny. It does things you never imagined it could.

And this is the point where you expect me to grumble as a creative, or to tout how it is going to change everything. Likely, you are in one of these few camps: either you see it making life way easier, it’s a lot of noise, or it’s taking your job.

I don’t think it is any of those, but at the very least, it is not simple.

But here I go a grumbling.

I said AI is coming, but really it is already here–it’s watching, tracking, learning about you. We’ll… you and me and him and her and they and us. All of us, and that’s possible because while we as a group are all individually unique—we have easily predictable habits as groups. We eat, sleep, love, cry, get hungry, go out, stay in…then repeat. Nothing surprising here.

So, if we as groups are such creatures of habit, making predictions is going to be easy.

Plug in the data.

Look for patterns.


Give it to a computer that can recognize patterns and learn to replicate said patterns and

(and yes, I am oversimplifying here)

Voila! You got yourself an Artificial Intelligence.

The more data put in, the smarter it gets.

The smarter it gets, the more complex behavior it can replicate.

Put in enough data, it can hold conversations.

Put in more words,

And it can write.

Show it images, it can paint.

Show it poetry, it waxes poetically.

Tell it to mimic something, it can.

And we are all amazed.

Add in the library of human knowledge (aka the internet) and it seems the end game is inevitable.

I was recently asked by a favorite client of mine, “Are you guys looking into AI?” Followed by “I think you should.” With an example of how she has played with it and the surprising results she found. She pointed it at a subject, fed it the facts and gave it a desired tone, and it came back with so much content.

I was dumbfounded.

My creative-yet-reptile brain responded, “Oh no!”

It was a well-worn response to AI within my inner-creative-reptile brain’s monolog.

I had it when Jason Allen won first place at the Colorado State Fare art exhibition with Théâtre D’opéra Spatial. A digital art piece produced by Midjourney that turns text descriptions into images.

I had the same response when I learned about Lensa, the AI that generates social media art portraits.

I had the same response I have every time I tune into Marketplace or This American Life when they share how their writers are exploring what AI can do to help them produce stories. To be fair, they are exploring what it can do, not letting it write … that we know of…😈.

(For your sanity dear reader, I will only mention here how each AI is sampling other artist’s work of art and/or copy. How it’s using bits and pieces of other talented human work without consent, credit or compensation…and how I will now suggest we go get a glass of something with alcohol in it, drink it, and then begin down the rabbit hole of discussing the ever-expanding topic of what is art, what is borrowing and what is outright stealing.)

Then…I remembered what makes being a creative so valuable. What makes hiring a creative so valuable. It’s not the ability to fill a page with word or photos or illustration or design—it’s the ability to find meaning. No—not to only find but to create meaning. Not stumble upon it; but to conjure it out of nothing. To take information and chaos and hope and intent and then turn it into something that touches another human being. To take in information and remold it into something more. Embody it with something new, get more output than input.

Jasper, that AI that writes high converting copy, can certainly kick out copy. Fill your pages, talk about what you tell it too. Hell, it can even sound like Shakespeare if you ask it to. (I’ll even pour you another glass of some sort of alcohol if you want to debate me about how it is currently often inaccurate and how that doesn’t actually matter on the internet or in social media.)

Théâtre D’opéra Spatial was pretty. An inventive mashup of a space opera. It even appeared to be inspired by impressionism and painted in oil. It got a blue ribbon.

I’ve even (almost, but not really) thought about playing with Lensa, making a portrait for fun…but alas, it loses my interest…as does all of these AI toys. Not because I can’t see the intrigue…hell, as long as I have been doing this, this industry has always wanted to remove the “creatives.” Creatives are not like the other employees in agencies, they stand out, they do their own thing, they don’t conform, they don’t operate like everyone else does. That’s what makes employing and dealing with them so hard. But that’s the point. That’s my point. That’s the entire game…the same reason that they are so hard to make conform is why they are so irreplaceable.

If you want, go ahead. Use Jasper to write your blog. Use Midjourney to make images. They will fill your feeds with words and pictures. Just not ideas. They won’t find the next new thought, the next new human connective tissue that emotionally ties your audience to your brand. They won’t get your audience to think. To hope. To love. To long for. They won’t inspire.

Above all, they will not move your brand forward.

No, they will only fill the rare opportunities to reach your audience with however many words you want. On the subjects you tell them. In the voice you give them.

And if you don’t think your audience is savvy enough to know the difference, what are you doing? Either you don’t respect your audience, which is always a mistake, or you don’t understand your audience, which is even worse.

Last I checked, we were still selling human things to human beings by making human connections. Those human connections are complicated, messy and ever evolving. The best brands (the ones you want to emulate or celebrate) live on the front lines of understanding this complicated mess of humanity. Not because they have more resources—because they did the work. Being able to navigate and lead the charge of new understanding of humanity is why they have the resources. They do the work.

Art, Copy, those are meant to move you.

Impact you.

Affect you.

Change you.

Marketing that builds business does not try to fill space.

That’s why Creatives (or the good ones anyway) are as valuable as ever. That is why they can’t be replaced. I’m even under the impression that the more this new toy is used and the more space that is filled without insight the more meaningful content (that makes an actual impact) will be at an even greater premium. That’s what has always been the difference.

I’m not saying A.I. doesn’t have value. It’s a tool. Tools are useful.

But I am saying meaning and insight do have value.

And that is something the AI has yet to learn.

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