With the widespread use of AI presenting some concerns, and in a critical time for businesses to learn how to harness the tool to help brands create more meaningful work, this topic is a continually evolving conversation at the front of creatives’ minds. Camilla Hunt, Senior Strategist - FutureBrand London, recently spoke with LS:N Global to discuss what this means through the lens of brand.

Artificial Intelligence & Human Emotion.

Since Generative AI’s centre-stage arrival in the public arena, there is industry-wide (and media-hyped) anxiety that it’s coming for our jobs as creative thinkers. As with other breakthrough technologies throughout history – electricity, the Internet, the sewing machine - this is nothing new.

Conversations that explore all implications of new technology – and safeguard humans - are important, if often a few decades too late. Today there are countless articles debating what this next technological frontier means for job security in the creative industry. This isn’t one of them. I am neither a policymaker nor an engineer. I am a brand strategist. My role is to find insight in information, building ideas that have the potential to inspire imagination and stir emotions. Try explaining that to a grandparent.

Inter-generational differences aside, the question put to me was simple: how can AI enable more emotionally driven brands?

I’ll cut to the chase and give you my immediate answer: It can’t.

Why? The power to trigger the innately human experience of emotion lies in the equally human ability to empathise, interpret and reframe. Great brands move people. They tap into what hearts desire and invite people to imagine versions of themselves and the world that aren’t yet real. It’s curiosity, empathy and ingenuity that make us feel ecstatic, proud, hopeful, purposeful, excited, and beautiful. Machines are learning to read and copy human emotions. The potential impact of this is incredible. But while they can mimic, machines cannot think. Let alone laterally. AI doesn’t have the ability to imagine and it can’t connect to the zeitgeist in ways that feel entirely of the moment because it doesn’t feel at all.

The more nuanced response to whether AI will lead to more emotionally driven brands lies in the question. Specifically, the word ‘enable’. AI is a tool.

Remember when designers used to draw, cut and paste by hand? When the world’s information hadn’t yet been organized and made universally accessible? Like the technology before it that has shaped the creative world, AI will change how we do our jobs. Just as we did with InDesign, we must harness this new tool, or risk getting left behind.

AI as freedom

Data analysis. Trademark checks. PowerPoint slides. AI has the potential to liberate us from time-intensive, repetitive tasks. A technology that can find, process and summarise information far faster than humans will become an essential research aid that saves trawling time. What will we do with all these extra hours? Focus on the reflection and experimentation that leads to true originality of thought. This leads to our next – and most important – point.

AI as a mirror

When we began to explore Generative AI, many of us experimented to find out what fictional brand strategies it might create and were disappointed by the results. Sometimes that’s because prompt engineering is a new skill for most. To get insightful answers, we need to learn to ask the likes of ChatGPT and DALL-E the right questions. But if the responses are scraped from data that already exists, we have a bigger problem: We don’t like what we see in the AI-looking glass. Reflected back at us is the homogeneity we’ve been putting out into the world in the name of creativity. Generative AI has brought us to the realisation that a lot of what we do plays into tropes and category cues, replicating patterns and perpetuating stereotypes. This is a gift.

Generative AI is a powerful tool that can challenge us to do better. It can serve up the initial input that acts as a catalyst for ideas. It can be a collaborator, assisting in the creative process and freeing our minds. While its future role is still being defined, this is as far as it takes us for now.

Creativity is a precious resource, and it belongs to us. The ability to inspire and rouse emotion in ways that truly resonate remains inherently human. Our responsibility is to eradicate uniformity, push the boundaries of our imagination and make the leap beyond good, to great.

This article originally appeared in LS:N Global

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