In April, “Heart on My Sleeve” spread like wildfire on TikTok, as users reveled in what they thought might be Drake’s hot new single — only the song wasn’t written or performed by Drake at all.
The track in question was actually made by TikTok creator @ghostwriter977 with the help of AI software. The “Heart on My Sleeve” controversy has generated a rumbling debate about artist rights, as AI begins to sweep the internet and infiltrate the creator economy. Artists like Grimes, who’s well-known for her love of futurism and artificial intelligence, has embraced this shift. “I’ll split 50% royalties on any successful AI generated song that uses my voice,” she recently shared on Twitter.
Though the jury is still out on the rules and rights of AI use, one thing is clear: the impact AI has (and will continue to have) on creators is huge. Creators of all ilk can benefit from AI. And it’s not only shaping the content they create, it’s revolutionizing their creative process as a whole.
What is generative AI — and how does it work?
Generative AI tools aren’t your typical digital tools, these are smart tools. While tools of the past relied on users to input or choose components from a library, generative AI tools and software can produce content — like text, images, or audio — based on user prompts and data they are trained on.
This type of AI system works by amassing a massive amount of data from all over the internet via fast interactive processing and smart algorithms. Since AI actively learns from its mistakes (like humans do), we can expect its abilities and intelligence to only continue to grow. The idea is that, over time, these algorithms enable AI to learn human patterns and languages, as well as identify visual and audio features.
Generative AI might still be in its infancy, but creators have taken note of its power and are using it to aid, embellish, and even direct their presence on social media. For some creators, this means asking tools like ChatGPT to write their TikTok and Instagram captions, or to generate a content plan based on their niche.
For others, AI has become a collaborator. These creators are using AI to co-create images and videos, and even co-direct their content. It’s something that’s changing the realm of social media and digital content rapidly and profoundly. In fact, these foundational AI tools might just come to define the 2020s.
How can creators leverage AI tools?
Creators of all types are now using AI-powered tools, and the possibilities they can bring about are truly endless. Read on as we dive into how creators can use AI tools to speed up their creative process, or to create the never-before-seen content of their dreams.
1. Writing smarter — and faster — with AI
AI copywriters and generic paragraph generators are currently some of the most developed AI tools on the market, and they’re about to streamline your entire writing process. Chatbots like ChatGPT let you ask AI to write anything, from a sentence to a paragraph and even a full-length essay — all in just seconds. Tools like these use deep learning algorithms to analyze user prompts, and then generate a response based on the patterns found in the natural language data they’re trained on.
But AI can help you with more than just copywriting. Some creators are also leveraging AI chatbots to help curate the content of their videos. Take TikTok creator @citycyn, who used ChatGPT to inform one of her makeup tutorials.
2. Using AI to create one-of-a-kind images
More than your regular photo editing software, AI image generators can produce images based on user prompts. These tools use a type of computational photography powered by real-time data processing, which helps the algorithm make decisions and generate novel content. In addition to image generation, AI image editing tools can analyze a photo and make subtle adjustments to improve its overall quality.
For photographer Noah Asanias, AI image generators have been an outlet to test new lighting and compositions, without the costly setup and crew. Forging a new style completely separate from his photography, Asanias’ AI-powered work not only features spaces and places that don’t exist in his own city, but clothing he’s co-created with AI.
These AI image generators are breathing new life into photography — especially in the realm of fashion. With the help of these tools, photographers are able to gain access to the exclusive world of fashion, getting their hands on clothing and accessories for image-making without the help of clients or brands.
Meanwhile, for painter and designer Mega McGrath, AI provides the opportunity to explore new ways of creative ideation and concepts that are outside her current body of work.
While her physical paintings feature abstract floral motifs, McGrath’s AI art experiments are strikingly different, featuring hyperreal still life subjects like flowers and butterflies, but in imaginary color combinations and patterns. Only one example of how AI image generators are bringing dreams to life.
3. Giving voice to your video content with AI
If you’ve ever struggled with voiceovers and video production, you’re going to love AI audio and video creation tools. For instance, Synthesia can create simulated audio tracks based on user-inputed scripts, which can then be used to create videos with AI humans avatars. Welcome to the future of audiovisual.
4. Animating your work with AI
Whether you want to create a video from an image or to animate existing footage, these tools will help you create moving visuals that would usually take hours — if not days — in a fraction of the time.
For example, artist and creator Ethan Tran used Leiapix to transform a portrait of himself into a 3D image. Taking it up a notch, director Karen X Cheng tapped image generator DALL-E 2 and the animation feature of EbSynth to create an engaging and seamlessly edited video.
The ethical challenges of AI
Of course, the ethics surrounding AI are a hot topic of current debate. For example, is training AI tools on existing art a form of plagiarism? Or, will the use of AI eliminate the need for human creators altogether?
To begin, AI training poses its own set of issues. This is because many AI-powered tools are learning from and, thus, mimicking work that already exists. This means that, at the end of the day, the companies behind some of these tools and the people who use them are profiting off of the work of other creators, without offering them compensation for their contributions.
In short, these systems have created an ethical and legal gray area. This issue has thrown off copyright infringement laws and, as a result, prompted large creator organizations, workforces, and unions to ban or place heavy restrictions on the use of AI tools. For example, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) is going on strike, demanding that Hollywood studios regulate the use of AI-generated material.
AI’s ability to help creators produce content seemingly out of thin air, with little-to-no resources, and in the blink of an eye has made them hot commodities in the creator economy. However, these tools are also posing a threat to many creative jobs — and hitting some demographics harder than others.
Companies like Levi’s, for instance, which recently announced it would be using AI-generated models rather than human models in the name of diversity, have raised concerns about how unethical AI use might strip back equity progress.
Is it possible for humans and AI to work in harmony?
Creators, writers, designers, models, and artists of all kinds have become increasingly concerned about how AI might impact their job security. For those with career anxieties, there is some reprieve: by design, AI relies on humans. So, as long as we continue to push transparent human-centric systems, infrastructures, and experiences, the AI revolution could even lead us to a cultural renaissance.
It’s safe to say that we are currently in the wild, wild west of AI advancements, and that we are both socially and politically working out what is deemed safe, equitable, and legal when it comes to using artificial intelligence. But technological advancements don’t have to equate to a grim, dystopian future. AI is still in its infancy, so transparency laws and regulations could help us steer clear of these tools negatively impacting humanity.