Creative Automation

If you haven’t seen it already I highly recommend checking out the 15min documentary “Humans Need Not Apply”. It’s an eye-opening look at automation without all the doom and gloom. Just an honest look at what it might mean for us humans in the future.

We don’t have to look further than our local stores to see how automation has impacted the workforce already.
The Amazon Go Beta store in Seattle shows us what a future of checkout-free shopping could look like:

And as of 8th December 2016 the DMV in America issued over 20 autonomous vehicle testing permits to manufacturers like VW, Mercedes-Benz, Bosch, Tesla, Honda and NVIDIA. Uber have tested self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and San Francisco and recently a Tesla in autopilot mode even predicted a crash before it happened:

Automation is here and the technology will only continue to improve. We’re already seeing changes in transport and retail, but what’s interesting to think about is how automation might change the face of the creative industry. How it will impact art, advertising, architecture, design and other equally “creative” professions.


I’ve skipped ahead to a section in the documentary here which discusses the point in a bit more detail. There’s definitely less risk of automation in creative professions, but we shouldn’t be naive enough to think machines don’t have the capacity to be creative. Below are just a few examples that might surprise you…

McCann’s AI Creative Director

AI software that sifts through previous award winning campaigns and ads to produce an original piece of work. When the public were asked to vote for their favourite ad, one created by the AI-CD and one created by human Creative Director Mitsuru Kuramoto, 46% voted for the AI vs 54% for the human ad. Pretty close. You can watch both here.

Daddy’s Car

A Beatles inspired song composed entirely by AI. Scientists at SONY CSL Research Lab set out to create an entire album of AI composed tracks, which you can listen to here.

The Next Rembrandt

Merging creativity and technology, agency JWT Amsterdam taught a computer how to paint like Rembrandt by having it study the old master’s works for months. The result was a completely new portrait, not a replica, that most people couldn’t distinguish from eth real thing.

First magazine edited with AI

The Drum and IBM teamed up to use IBM’s Watson to create the first ever magazine edited by AI.  IBM Watson is actually a fascinating piece of technology. Below is a video that explains how it works in a bit more detail:

The purpose of this post is to show people that automation has the potential to impact “all” jobs, not just low-skill or repetitive ones.

People in the creative industry run the lowest risk of automation, which is great. It gives us time to explore how we can work alongside machines rather than against them. One of my favourite examples of this is the concept of Generative Art, which I learnt about in the video below. Artist John Briscella has such a positive approach to working with machines and wants to know how designers can step back and let the software do what it does best.

I think John’s approach to machines and automation is pretty inspiring, and I hope that more people in the creative industry start to embrace where it is and help direct where it could go from here.

Besides securing a future for ourselves, we might just find a great solution for people in other industries looking for a place to go as well.


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