When will AI replace us all?
Technology changing workplaces is nothing new. For centuries, machines have been introduced to make certain jobs quicker, easier, and even eliminate the need for humans to do them. Now with the advances in artificial intelligence (AI), there are concerns that more intelligent machines will be able to take even more jobs. For the creative industries, questions are being asked over what or who else can be automated.
Which jobs are at risk?
Multiple studies have been published estimating the number of jobs we’re going to lose to robots over the coming years. Researchers at Oxford University have predicted that 47% of jobs in the US are at risk of being replaced by computerisation, while PwC estimates 30% of jobs in Britain are under threat from advances in AI. While robots usually replace workers doing repetitive, routine tasks, their increasing capabilities means they’re taking on more and more roles. On social media, chatbots powered by AI can now take customer service questions and complaints. At a Japanese insurance firm, 34 insurance claim workers were replaced by Watson, IBM’s AI business platform.
So what does this all mean for the creative industry and the roles within it?
Well, the possibility of being replaced isn’t too farfetched. It’s even happening already. Cosabella, a lingerie label, replaced their digital agency with an AI that handles marketing and media buying tasks. Software that offers design capabilities is getting better too. There are website builders powered by AI where users simply upload their content and have the AI design the site for them. Need a company logo? Logojoy, an AI logo maker, has it covered. And if clients aren’t happy with the results, they just hit a reset button and instantly get a new design. No need to go back and forth with agencies, no time spent waiting for redesigns, and no costs for them either.
Before you start planning a career change, it’s worth noting that we’re still pretty far from the total robot takeover this article might’ve had you picturing so far. It’s true machines are becoming more capable of complex tasks, but they still aren’t good at handling situations they haven’t encountered before.
How AI can help smaller businesses
AI also aren’t truly generative yet, meaning they can’t make things by themselves from scratch. Design tools that use AI still require a lot of input from humans to work and while they can produce decent designs, they can also be quite restrictive in terms of what they can actually do. Much of the software with AI-assisted design is aimed at smaller businesses who might not be able to afford a designer or agency yet and just need a simple website or logo; companies wanting something more unique will still need designers and programmers for at least some of the process. So until we work out how to computerise the creative process, designers and other creatives will find their jobs safe in the meantime. In fact, the Oxford University study that estimated almost half of the jobs in the US will be automated found the risk of a graphic designer being replaced by a robot is 8.2%.
Are robots competition for humans?
So before AI gets to the stage where its intelligence and capabilities surpass us mere mortals, it’s more likely we’ll be working together with machines rather than competing with them. It’ll be good for us too. By handing over tasks to AI they’re more efficient at - routine work, sifting through large amounts of data finding patterns in them etc. - we can free up more time to do the tasks that require creative or strategic thinking. AI that assists agencies and designers in different ways is also being built. Startup TrademarkVision’s AI can sift through millions of existing trademarks to find out if a newly designed logo infringes on any copyright. Some creative agencies have even found new opportunities working with AI already like offering dedicated units that specialise in giving marketers AI-related guidance and advice.
The robot apocalypse might be a while off, but jobs will continue to be lost to automation and as AI advances, the variety of roles that require humans may start to shrink. But new jobs will pop up like they always have and who knows what AI-related opportunities are awaiting those in the creative industries. Or maybe we’ll just live like the humans in Wall-E, barely having to lift a finger while the robots do everything for us. Here’s hoping.