AI's Role in Empowering Self-Sufficient Creationby@kitthirasaki
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AI's Role in Empowering Self-Sufficient Creation

by Kitt HirasakiApril 3rd, 2023
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Generative AI revolutionizes creativity, empowering individuals as creators. Embracing AI's potential calls for unity in sharing its economic benefits.
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Generative AI is poised to revolutionize not just industries and economies but also the way we approach creativity and content creation. As AI democratizes access to powerful tools and resources, individuals will become fully-empowered creators, reducing reliance on capital, organizations, and others’ labor.

The Democratization of Creativity

YouTube was the first major distribution breakthrough that enabled individuals to create content at zero cost and reach millions of people.

More recently, TikTok has further lowered the barrier to creating content, enabling every person with a mobile phone to become an instant creator, and building a recommendation algorithm to surface the world’s best creations for you to watch.

Generative AI is the next leap forward in this trend, further lowering the bar and giving individuals the ability to create high-quality content and experiences that were once reserved for those with large budgets and extensive teams.

Midjourney v5: “painterly illustration of a long printed scroll of paper turning into a colorful ribbon that contains imaginative fantasy locations”

Screenplay as Prompt

From a generative AI perspective, if you think about it, a traditional screenplay is essentially a prompt that is fed to a production machine, which applies a diverse set of talents, skills, and experience, to produce a movie.

Soon, we will have an AI system that can produce realistic videos, character performances, voices, lighting, and editing, not to mention assisting in the creation of the story and screenplay itself. This system will allow any individual to become a movie director — or perhaps, a “movie prompter” — and direct generative AI to create and refine entire films or series.

Even if the system does not reach the full production quality execution that a professional house would produce, it will allow creators to generate movies to use as the pitch itself, rather than the screenplay.

An AI production system can also enable the creation of completely new virtual actors and voices, celebrities who do not exist in real life. Or add in Tom Cruise as a virtual actor for your pitch, and then get the real Tom on board once he’s seen the movie he’ll be in.

Power Flows to the Creator

These tools mean that much of the current artistic and craft labor involved in making entertainment can be replaced for small indie or individual efforts, and heavily augmented for professional productions.

Already, voice actors are being impacted by AI’s power to generate realistic, compelling, and directable AI voices. Screen actors will follow, as well as many of the large number of craftspeople who contribute to a production.

A production designer, given these tools, can work alone or with a small team of other designers, to create and implement the entire look of a film or series. The director of photography and editor will command AI tools to refine the look and cut.

Just as globalization has enabled effects production to become commoditized and offshored from the US to reduce labor costs, generative AI will replace that globalized labor.

Today, individual creators of feature films, and certainly TV series, do not exist. With generative AI, anyone will be able to play this role and reap the rewards of their creativity and vision.

Midjourney v5: “painterly illustration of a lonely person in the foreground looking down onto an imaginative fantasy festival below”

Job and Identity Loss

I expect that significant changes to entertainment driven by generative AI will come this decade, and this will negatively impact the careers of many people currently working in these industries. These people will not be alone, as AI will also likely disrupt business in general, replacing significant numbers of people with careers in administration or knowledge work.

While the gains for the world will be spread thinly across large numbers of people, the losses of jobs and career identities will be painful for people who are replaced. US society does not have a good mechanism for dealing with this dislocation.

The upcoming dislocation will be different from the effects of globalization, where place-based manufacturing was outsourced or replaced, causing whole towns and cities to collapse. The roles facing replacement by AI are spread all across the US, though it is certainly possible that AI replacements in specific industries could have strong local impacts — finance in NY, entertainment in LA, and software development in SF and Seattle.

For many people affected, the loss is a double loss — both economic and identity. The loss of a job or career earnings is a major material loss, but the loss of career identity is incredibly powerful as well.

Generative AI imagery has caused significant fear and anger among some artists, who see its existence as not only an economic competitor but also a devaluation of their identity and status as an artist.

These losses are very real, and support from our society, both economic and emotional, is critical.

Towards a UBI

I do not believe that efforts to stop the expansion of AI, in particular, to avoid economic disruptions, will succeed. I recognize many of the negatives but believe that the technology is both inevitable and a large net positive.

Entertainment creatives and craftspeople will not be the only people displaced by AI, and our society should begin experiments with adopting a universal basic income (UBI) to provide a base level of support for every person in the US.

A UBI will help provide security, negotiation power with employers, and freedom to pursue interests outside of earning money, as well as distribute the AI-enabled individual gains of creators and businesspeople across society.

Midjourney v5: “painterly illustration of four people with thought bubbles filled with imaginative fantasy locations”

Prepare for the Future

In this new AI-powered world, every individual, should they choose to, will be empowered to share their ideas and contribute to the giant ecosystem of human creativity.

However, dislocations and increased income and power inequality will affect our society, and we must act proactively to address these pains, working together as communities and a country to share both the creative and economic benefits of AI.

Also published here.