Making a living when AI raises the bar.

With the recent release of Sora from Open AI there's once again a flood of online sentiment around the end of all jobs for creatives. The technology is impressive, lets get that out the way early. There's something about video that feels more impressive than text or image generation. Despite that, I don't see the future to be as bleak as has been outlined in recent commentary.

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I believe, technologies like Sora make us more valuable. Not because we now all have more leverage, which seems to have become the default position of AI enthusiasts. I think the main value these generative models will bring is a higher threshold for bullshit.

Reports created by, and for AI.

I've talked to many people in professional roles about how they're using AI. By far, the most common response is "we've used it to generate our monthly reports. We give it dot points and previous reports and it creates a new 10 page report for the month." Initially this sounded great. Less time writing long winded reports seems like a win for all involved. On the other hand, if the dot points were enough to generate a full report, perhaps that's all we should have sent.

I think we all already knew this. In a professional context a lot of report writing boils down to wrapping a few key points in enough corporate babble to tick all of the correct boxes. That's not to say the underlying results or key points aren't worth communicating. We're instead stuck in a set of corporate rituals akin to a dinner in Downton Abbey.

What brings this home is that another often cited use of ChatGPT is summarizing these reports to find the key points. At some point, perhaps not soon, we'll realise the wasted effort here and cut out the middle man. If an AI with no first hand knowledge of your business is doing the report writing, it's unlikely to be high quality content.

Blogs, full of images for us to scroll right past

One of the frustrating parts of an SEO driven world is the formation of nonsense patterns that help give an uplift in rankings. Ten page recipe back stories are a perfect example of this pattern. The other one is the inclusion of AI generated images in blog posts.

An image can certainly be worth a thousand words but it's rare. I am certain that most of these AI generated hero images are quickly ignored. A splash of color and half second of load time that nobody really asked for.

Some websites on the other hand make use of images in a way that lifts the content. Those choices are intentional. Images feel thematic and deliberate and part of the story. I feel most people know the difference. We tolerate the lazy use of images because it's not a high price to pay but once again it starts to feel like a bit of a waste.

So what do we do?

AI generated content is here to stay and will continue to improve in quality. It has it's place and will continue to be used. The choice we have is what to do given that's the case. AI has raised the bar, lazy clip art images are no longer worth the effort. AI has widened the net, it can provide an OK level of output in a lot of areas. It's very good at passable bullshit.

Given that, the best thing we can do is slow down. The world has needed low quality waffle for a long time. Corporate reports aren't a new thing and have always been a long winded way of saying a little. Let's leave that work to the machines. If we no longer need to rush to produce low quality content we can take time to obsess on quality.

Those of us lucky enough to have autonomy in our jobs can spend more time on less things. I'm optimistic that the world will eventually demand a higher level of content as we all become familiar with the new 'baseline' of AI generated quality. The value will come from carefully crafted and distilled output with the bullshit stripped away.

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