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Generative AI: A Cambrian Explosion of Creativity is Here

Since the earliest cave paintings, art has been about the interplay between technological advancement and creativity.

Throughout time, engineers, technologists, and inventors have created new tools which are seized on and used in new and interesting ways by creative people. 


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"Hands at the Cuevas de las Manos upon Rio Pinturas, near the town of Perito Moreno in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina." Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Prehistoric artists took advantage of red ochre to capture the outline of their hands on cave walls. During Classical Antiquity, bronze casting and quarrying facilitated works of breathtaking scale, ambition and beauty. The pigment ultramarine blue was brought from the mines of Afghanistan to facilitate the stunning iconographic imagery of the Renaissance.


With each advancement, the leap forward in creativity outpaced anything that those who enabled the leap could have imagined. How could the inventor of the piano have imagined the intricate beauty of a Mozart concerto? Could the creator of the stone saw have imagined the soaring buttresses of Chartres Cathedral?


With each advancement in technology, there is a moment in which creators grasp what it means and how it can be used. True, new tools shift working patterns over time – the printing press was never going to be the best news for the armies of calligraphers – but over time, they empower humanity far more than they take away. They force us to evolve to far greater levels of capability.


For instance, Casual exists because we were able to take advantage of professional-grade, consumer-priced equipment to create eye-catching work which would have required whole production studios just a couple of years before. The continuing democratization of creative technology empowers more people to share their experiences in more compelling ways.


As Sam Altman, OpenAI's CEO said on in an interview on the New York Times' Hard Fork podcast:

“We need to give people access to the platform so we can see how they use it. We cannot possibly foresee every use case, positive or negative’ 


This might sound a little alarming given the scope of these products. I don’t want to understate their potential for misuse, but use Chat GPT, Dall-E or Open Diffusion and you cannot escape the feeling that they represent a moon landing level event for humanity. Spend half an hour experimenting with different prompts and your mind starts to melt at the potential ways they could be used creatively. They could be the greatest leap in democratizing creative tech in our lifetimes.


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The nave of Chartres Cathedral


They have caught the public’s imagination partially because we are living in a world that has seen the Internet revolutionize so much of our lives. The transformative potential of technology has been proven.


As a filmmaker and creative entrepreneur, this is a hugely exciting development. It will change our industry more than most, but we can already see many of the ways it will make us better. Just like any new tool, we must integrate them into our processes to become more effective storytellers.


But these are just tools. They still need to be told what to do. There is a skill in crafting the prompt to get the output that you want. They will, of course, improve in time and become more usable/intuitive. But they already put levels of creative execution that were recently the preserve of talented photoshop artists or teams of writers in the hands of users.


More people able to express themselves without the bounds of their creative ability. This is going to change our lives in ways we can only just start to imagine

We have entered a whole new paradigm of creative expression.


This was originally posted on Nick's Beyond Casual blog on LinkedIn. Learn more here.



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