When MAD//Fest asked me to write a column about ‘whatever’s on your mind MKD’, I thought I might write about the looming recession, the endless Tory leadership race to be the UK’s, or is it England’s, next PM, the state of DE&I in our industry, women's eroding rights over our bodies or maybe my recent conversation over lunch with @Media_Lad (which covered all these topics and  so much more). But then someone sent me this YouTube Video ,(see below), and I got to thinking about how will we, citizens of the advertising industry, will cope in a world where potentially all creativity is commoditised, and therefore art and artistry could well become a zero sum game (despite all those NFT’s)?

Most of us got into the advertising game because we had some ambition to ‘create’ - and I’m not talking simply about those frustrated film directors who landed the plum ECD roles in the big creative shops and live to make TV commercials. I’m referencing the people like you and me who understand that a creative lens on the world is a pretty fundamental bonus, whatever part of the advertising and digital ecosystem you ‘fell into’. Creativity sells products, services and is the bedrock of our industry.

Even in media sales, creativity was the number one skill in demand. As our world has become more complex and driven by efficiency, effectiveness and delivering emotional bonds and engagement with the consumer, creativity has had to work even harder and harder, and be de-risked repeatedly.  By the way, that absolutely includes the creativity required to develop all adtech and martech, dashboards, data and operational design. Whether you’re a developer, a strategist, a trader, a founder or in the talent business, whatever your role, our industry has cherished creativity above and beyond all else for decades.

But now, creativity, that most human of attributes, is under threat from technology, and things are predicted to change, extremely rapidly.  Have you played with DALL-E 2 yet? Well I’ve been able to access it via the amazing talent that is Richard Norton, (you can sign up for the waitlist). It generates AMAZING  creative results - the variety and quality of creative ideas and execution that it can produce from a few key words in literally milliseconds.

It’s only going to get more incredible in terms of quality and ‘originality’, speed and cost, as the database of creative executions the AI sources increases, computing power grows exponentially, and the demand for creator driven content continues to quadruple monthly. Moores Law at work in the age of accelerating change. 

AI powered anything, let alone creative design, brings with it many ethical, moral and regulatory challenges. Challenges that it is hard to imagine any one individual would be suitably qualified and experienced enough to build a workable framework that protects our rights as human beings, consumers and creators.

Policy makers, governments, industry bodies and multi-billionaire tech oligarchs, yes that's you Mr Zuckerberg, appear to be very slow to take appropriate action to protect our rights, both human and related to the copyright challenges and commercial models that we now need to address. We all thought that it would be those horrible front line jobs like rubbish collection, school catering, hop picking, street cleaning etc that would be automated, where AI would give us the time to be, well, more creative.

Instead, is AI is robbing us of our idiomatic human expression? Or will we just be creative in more highly individualistic and therefore potentially elitist ways? Walking down the street in Williamsburg my friend, the Executive Creative Director of one of the USA’s greatest luxury retailers observed, ’People dress like clowns, everyone trying to be more and more extreme, more outrageous. The most rare finds are worn as badges of distinction, you are honoured and admired for being unique, for being supercool. A new elite is being born.’

Let me know your take on this as I am sure that this topic will become something we will all need to have an opinion and point of view on. There are simply multiple ramifications, including our purpose as an industry, our role as curators and experts, and our need and desire to protect our consumers, our clients and ourselves. I look forward to reading your comments and learning so much more…

Mary Keane-Dawson, Advertising Industry Leader, Growth Specialist, NED and BIMA Hall of Fame 2022 Inductee, will be writing a regular column for MAD//Insight.