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OpenAI announced this week that they have trained an AI to take simple one-line briefs and generate corresponding illustrations and photo- realistic images. The results are stunning. But what are the implications for the creative industries and the creative people who work in it?


DALL·E is based on a previous OpenAI work around image completion. That system, called Image GPT, could take part of an image and generate the rest of it, pretty plausibly.

Which is fine, but falls into the parlour-trick end of AI. Impressive but ultimately pretty useless. …

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Photo Tom Rickhuss/Unsplash

It’s that time of year again. The Christmas lights are being put up, Nigella is back on TV and the annual John Lewis ad has been launched.

Christmas is somehow more important this year, given the trials and tribulations of 2020. It’s certainly different to other years, with so much more riding on it.

So I was thinking, can an AI give us some clues about how to make it a good one?

Via the Philosopher AI app, anyone can now access GPT-3, the current state-of-the-art AI natural language generator.

So, I gave it the simple prompt: “how to have a happy Christmas”. …

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Joshua Sortino

This is a summary of the presentation I gave at the Christmas edition of I’ll Be Back South West, a monthly forum for people who work in the AI/creativity/advertising/marketing space.

Many thanks to Kerry Harrison and Richard Norton for inviting me to speak. A video of the talk is also available here.

TL;DR: Erosion of trust, an AI skills shortage, machine learning taking over VFX, investment in data infrastructure, and the increasing merging of the physical and virtual.

First off, I should come clean and admit that I think predictions are (mostly) bullshit. You only have to look back at previous predictions you can see how wrong they can be. For example, in 1964, the Rand Corporation gathered 82 experts to make predictions — predictions which included, robots as household servants by 1980, two-way communication with extraterrestrials by 2000 and the breeding of apes and other animals for menial work by 2020. …

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Images: Kerry Harrison

AI-powered technology doesn’t just have to be about refining existing processes, it can also be about creating new ideas and content

Last month I attended Faculty’s 17th Fellowship Demo Day. Young data scientists who are part of the fellowship programme get a few minutes each to walk through a project they have worked on as part of the fellowship.

It was fascinating to get a look inside 12 completely different projects where AI can have such a direct and meaningful impact.

The projects covered a range of activity, including:

  • Helping restaurants fine-tune their offering on Just Eat
  • Helping the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to weed out scam…

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WGSN’s offices near Piccadilly Circus

Men, I’ve got some fashion news for you. Over-shirts are on their way out, and cardigans are on their way in.

If you’re a menswear retailer or label, you should start reducing your investment in over-shirts and increasing your range of cardigans over the next 2 or 3 years..

I know this not because I’m particularly fashion forward or a maven of menswear. I mean, just look at me.

No, I know this because a machine told me so.

Even if you don’t know who WGSN are, you are almost certainly wearing clothes, using make-up, driving a car or living in a home that has been designed with advice from them. …

The 10 insights from Music Ally’s AI report on the use of AI in music creation

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Three Musicians, 1921 by Pablo Picasso

I write frequently about how AI-powered technology is impacting the creative industries, so it was perhaps inevitable that I would eventually get to music.

Music is, in fact, one of the earliest forms of art to have been made by a machine. In 1958, a computer algorithm on a computer at the University of Illinois was used to compose The Illiac Suite, a string quartet in the Classical style.

Unfortunately, while doing my research, I came across Music Ally’s Nov 2019 reportAIs on the prize’. I say unfortunately because it was such a well-researched, thorough and complete piece that it’s pointless trying to match it. …

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Photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash

For those who don’t know, Descript is a software tool which allows you to edit podcasts and other spoken word content much more easily than traditional audio editing applications.

Its main feature is that by using machine-learning, it converts the sound wave into a written transcript. This allows the user to edit the audio by editing the text. Pretty nifty.

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Creation of adam, from Michaelangelo

TL;DR: The people challenge of introducing ‘AI’ into a business is often underestimated compared to the technology challenge. This is a guide to the human processes and pitfalls to consider when introducing and implementing AI-powered tech.

AI — it’s the big buzzword. Depending who you ask, it’s either going to save the faltering economy or it’s going to steal all our jobs. Or maybe both.

Certainly machines are doing some amazing things for businesses:

But this focus on the wow-factor of the technology also obscures the role of people in it. …

AI techniques are enabling a new era of machine-generated content. It will change the cost-structure of content production, giving people and businesses access to production quality that would previously have been out of reach. And it will change the nature of content itself.

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Alice pulls the curtain back on a whole new world

This is the third in a series of long-reads about the role of AIin various creative fields from art, design and music to journalism and comedy, aimed at the general business audience. How humans and machines can work together to make creativity easier or quicker. And how industry, society and culture play in to that.

For those who dont know me, I spent 15 years of my career making digital content for brands as head of digital at MTV, and in big creative agencies BBH and Iris. I am now a consultant, advising AI-powered businesses — and businesses who want to use the power of AI.

TL;DR Journalism is in crisis. The arrival of the internet disrupted publishers’ relationship with their audience as well as their income. AI-powered technology will be a key way for them to improve the cost and quality of story detection, composition and distribution. Realigning how humans and machines work together in new ways will be the trickiest but also most important thing to get right.

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The machine-powered journalist of the future. It’s a metaphor. (Credit 20th Century Studios)

This is the third in a series of long-reads about the role of AIin various creative fields from art, design and music to journalism and comedy, aimed at the general reader. How humans and machines can work together to make creativity easier or quicker. …


Matthew Kershaw

Consultant, advising AI-powered businesses and those who want to use the power of AI — particularly in the creative industries

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