[Please enjoy this AI-generated glamour shot of the author that looks nothing like the author.]
If you were alive and typing during Twitter’s heyday among the Vancouver advertising and tech crowd and the advent of Hootsuite, you likely remember the name Kris Krüg. A self-proclaimed “techartist, quasi-sage, cyberpunk, anti-hero from the future” Kris began his career as a photographer and soon expanded his horizons into the wide world of creative technology.
After following Kris for a while, I decided to take our internet relationship to the next level by subscribing to his Futureproof Creatives newsletter, where I came across an interview he did on the topic of AI’s impact in creative industries with Rob Anthony on Are We Done Yet. The interview began with Kris and Rob roasting each other mercilessly, and the entire hilarious exchange was a deepfake produced using generative AI tools HeyGen and ElevenLabs.
Something that stood out for me in the interview that followed was when Kris mentioned using generative AI to build a writing style guide for himself. He described simply inputting various pieces of his writing into ChatGPT and generating a style guide he could then use to create new pieces of content that would read exactly like his own voice; he wouldn’t have to write them at all.
As a writer, the prospect of this was equal parts intriguing and horrifying to me. Could I do the same thing? Could someone else take my writing and teach AI to write in my style and then crumple me up and throw me in the trash? Are we on a path to losing the joy of the creative process entirely? I had to learn more.
In the same newsletter, Kris plugged his first AI workshop: AI Tools & Trends for Marketers and Creatives. It promised to show us how to harness the power of AI to elevate our digital engagement and storytelling… a gateway to melding technology with creativity.
Here are some of my key takeaways from the four-hour workshop:
Thinking of AI as inherently evil is misguided
After a few participants, including myself, stated that we were a bit nervous about AI’s impact on our ability to make a living, futurist David Houle chimed in with some interesting points. He discussed how the word “artificial” sets the stage for negativity. The technology is real, and technology is morally neutral. It’s what humans do with it that attaches meaning.
David pointed out that similar negative sentiment had been expressed in the past about innovations such as the television, which was labelled as “THE BOOB TUBE.” In hindsight, TV didn’t turn us all into idiotic “boobs” but it did give us access to more information.
This made me think back to the time when I resisted the prospect of having the internet on my phone. Now look at me! I can never go back to the days of printing Mapquest directions out on my computer before driving somewhere (I scoff at the request to print anything these days). Am I going to be absolutely rudderless when a solar flare cancels the internet forever? Absolutely. Do we need to worry about that now? No (but if you know of any post-internet survival courses, please let me know).
The risk of not participating in generative AI outweighs the risk of participating
This was the answer Kris gave when I asked about the safety of inputting potentially sensitive or proprietary information into generative AI tools when training them to behave in a certain way. Could a bad actor steal my writing style? Potentially. Would they do it? Likely not. (Who the hell do I think I am?) What about working on client projects and putting details from the brief into AI? Same answer. When used effectively, the competitive advantage of using AI in creative projects outweighs the risks.
That being said, copyright is a touchy issue when it comes to AI. The outcome of several high-profile lawsuits, such as The New York Times and bestselling nonfiction authors suing OpenAI (makers of ChatGPT), may change things going forward. However, it seems the technology may be moving faster than it can be regulated.
AI is rapidly revolutionizing content creation…
The tools Kris demoed for us in the workshop blew my mind. He showed us how to train a GPT to write in his own voice and from his perspective, and then generate a week’s worth of social media posts on a specific topic in a matter of minutes. (If you are unfamiliar, GPT stands for “generative pre-trained transformer,” which is a type of large language model and framework for generative artificial intelligence.)
The posts were nothing like the weird-adjective-stuffed repetitive BS I mentioned in my post about using ChatGPT to write cover letters. Rather, they were thoughtful and written from Kris’ perspective and worldview and in his own distinct writing style. In less than an hour’s work and with just a few small tweaks, he had produced high-quality content that may have taken several hours or even days to research and write.
But that wasn’t even the craziest part. He also showed us how he uses tools like ElevenLabs (voice cloning) and HeyGen (deepfake videos) to generate realistic videos of himself delivering the content mentioned above in multiple languages he does not actually speak.
… But it’s not just about content creation
Some other interesting AI uses discussed in the workshop:
- Journalling: Record an audio journal, transcribe using AI, then get AI to analyze the text from the perspectives of different people like a therapist, nutritionist, supportive partner, etc.
- Meetings: Use AI tools to transcribe meetings and generate a to-do list for attendees.
- Client communications: Use AI to analyze your answer to a client’s question from their perspective (including their profession, education level, personality) to see if you’ve missed anything they might bring up.
Once everyone learns how to use generative AI effectively, it’s over for you (us) hoes
I have to admit I feel pretty smug when I can identify a piece of content that has clearly been generated by AI and not written by a real human.
🚀 Bullet point emojis
🥴 Weird adjectives no real person would ever use
🤔 Content not written in the correct brand voice
Clients are still asking me to help edit content they have generated with ChatGPT to make it more on-brand, but that’s not going to last long. When normies get better at training AI and using better prompts – really using AI to its full potential – the content quality will improve and likely become unrecognizable.
Resistance is futile
Back to my question about how this will affect the joy of the creative process. Of course a writer like me can still sit down and write something from my own brain without technological assistance and extract great joy from that. But really, I have been using technological assistance since the days when I abandoned sifting through musty periodicals in a library in favour of some quick Google research from the comfort of my own musty couch.
What is actually changing is the relationship between the joy of creation and using that creation to generate income in the worlds of marketing and advertising. In that case, we creatives must learn how to use AI to our advantage. (AI’s use in the creation of art is a whole other ballgame and I‘d love to pick Rick Rubin’s brain about that.)
We can keep the joy of creation alive, it just might look a bit different. And we will always have the option to build a fire and put on a record and take out the old pen and paper if we ever feel like reliving the analog days. We might have to when the internet implodes.
This post was written entirely by a human and did not use any AI tools, but now I must go off and generate my writing style guide. Maybe the next post will be generated that way, maybe you won’t be able to tell the difference.
If you are interested in learning more about AI and its applications for creatives and marketers, Kris is continuing his workshop series. For more info, subscribe to his newsletter.
Further AI resources mentioned in the workshop you might like to explore:
ElevenLabs (voice cloning): https://elevenlabs.io/
HeyGen (deepfake videos): HeyGen – AI Video Generator
ChatGPT (content creation): https://chat.openai.com/
Midjourney (image creation): https://www.midjourney.com/
Mindstudio (integrate various): AI tools MindStudio (youai.ai)
POE (every tool in one place): https://poe.com/