Protopian AI sets a direction, not a destiny

The latest surge in machine deep learning has hit the digital industry like a megatsunami and that poses the question: how do we, in digital development, manage software that’s becoming smarter by the day?

- 17. May 2023

The impact of AI across digital disciplines; design, development and marketing is happening at lightning speed right now. We’re becoming supercharged with supersmart algorithms. With deep learning - the earthquake that has started the current AI megatsunami. 

Tools, like ChatGPT, are sucking up unbelievable amounts of data, churning through the entire internet, analyzing the patterns using neural networks, and coming back with output comprehensive to us. That’s quite impressive.

AI is named a future-defining technology that will transform almost everything in the same way electricity did more than 100 years ago. While we acknowledge that there’s a bit of an overhype to it, there’s no denying the inroad AI is making in our homebase right now.

And we, as a society, are raising the big questions. We project an utopian future, where computers will help us unlock limitless prosperity and in the opposite corner, we envision a dystopian future where computers turn red and overtake humanity, directing us into a great state of suffering or even extinction.

The general scare that AI has come to replace us rather than assist us stems from the fact that we still have a somewhat poor understanding of AI and its potential. But a good reminder to keep us from shaking in our boots is that AI is still deeply flawed and biased. Machine nature and human nature are not the same and creative AI is still only as good as the real-life creatives using it.

At Adapt, we’re embracing a third societal direction - Protopia - when we consider how we want to use and manage AI software in digital development going forward. It’s a term coined by Wired Magazine co-founder Kevin Kelly. What we believe AI can offer us is incremental progress and improvements over a longer period of time. A crawl towards betterment slowly day by day where AI is an aid in gradually improving the digital solutions we craft for our clients and improve the experience they offer their customers.

Protopian AI sets a direction, not a destiny.

Possibilities in Digital Development

> Open up exciting new formats for storytelling: AI can assist us in conveying a compelling narrative in more than one format whether it’s text, sound, image or video and thus increase the overall customer experience.

> Marketing optimization and personalization: AI-driven data analytics tools and content generators can help us make grounded decisions to marketing efforts and increase the quality of creative output. 

> Automate routine task: AI can automate routine tasks such as data entry and research allowing us to focus more on creative and strategic work.

> Development: We are able to boost our development efforts by having AI assist in code problems, bugs and reviewing increasing the speed to deployment of websites and apps and reliability once launched.

> Learning: Perhaps most important of all, is that AI allows us to explore, learn and develop our competencies within our field. Become smarter in what we already know.

Implications

AI can be classified as a dual-class technology akin to nuclear power which offers tantalizing potential yet also potential harm. When AI-generated content emerges, like malevolent AI-generated deepfakes or AI-built art, it stirs questions of ownership, responsibility and copyright issues. Just take the recent Getty Images case concerning Stability AI’s alleged copyright violation as an example.

We should not trust artificial intelligence blindly, because it will bend human reason to its level.

Quotify AI

Trusting AI tools like ChatGPT blindly can also lead to misinformation, as language models may produce eloquent yet inaccurate answers to our queries. We need to keep in mind that AI learns from human input - in other words - AI is only as accurate as the datasets we feed it and that raises a broader concern: what happens if we begin to curate AI tools to our own desired outcome? That can amplify the bias of any discourse, be it political, scientific, economic and so on. In terms of data ethics, this is where we really need to think twice about our actions.

AI models are only as good as the data they’re built on. Key questions in the debate should be about data origin, its ethical justification, and who’s truly safeguarding and ensuring the quality of the inputs.

Anders Homann, Data & Optimization Lead, Adapt

Then there’s the volume of new AI tools being introduced to the market, which is also something to consider. Right now, we’re left almost breathless by the sheer amount, and without pause to catch our breath it can become a struggle to predict the technology’s trajectory. Said trajectory for OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool was recently aired by its CEO Sam Altman claiming that the age of giant AI Models is already over and that the future of AI is not about scale, but rather about refinement. That could be a first “pause” of many to come.

As a digital agency, we are naturally also quite interested in the impact AI tools will have for human behavior on the internet and what the future of websites and digital content will look like. The majority of the internet is built to attract and retain visitors in separate domains, but what’s the economic incentive for creating content in the future, if we can turn to AI tools for all our inquires? Will websites to some degree render more obsolete?

Lastly, there’s the thing about climate and sustainability - a “warm” topic in digital development right now. It can’t be ignored that deep learning’s data processing requires vast energy resources to function. 

Critiquing AI and its implications is essential, as it fuels meaningful discourse, allowing us to better understand it and set an appropriate course for how we want to use it going forward.

Our recommendations

AI should be viewed as a valuable tool for growth, not a defining factor for you as an agency or your clients. Embrace its use while acknowledging the unique role of human authenticity and emotion. Identify challenges and friction points where AI can add value, and use it to reimagine what you already know. We recommend always striving for a realistic, better future, addressing concerns as they arise. In true protopian style.

In your profession it’s key to be source critical based on your own abilities, because in the end it’s your responsibility to verify the truthfulness of the information you’re given if you plan on using it. AI tools lack the ability to verify information in real-time or evaluate the credibility of their training data sources. Hence, it’s essential to cross-verify the information provided by AI tools and use them as a starting point rather than a definite source of truth. Be mindful of data ethics especially, both the origin and nature of the data you are feeding the tools with. There’s a data privacy and legal aspect to it if you’re using sensitive or personal data.

Understanding the intricacies of AI, like the human mind, remains a work in progress. In the meantime, focus on aligning AI with human values and designing systems with good objectives to ensure responsible behavior. You and your clients can quickly lose credibility and trust with customers given the delicate nature of AI generated content.

Most businesses rely heavily on the trust they receive from their audience. Therefore, I would be cautious, when utilizing AI-generated content, particularly when it involves human portraits, in order to effectively convey a desired message. Even though such content is labeled as AI-created, it frequently disconnects audiences and undermines the credibility of the businesses. However companies may find greater advantages in utilizing generic or illustrated content.

Anders Skov Pape, Creative Director, Adapt

Just like you, we are exploring AI and learning day by day. Feel free to reach out if you’re having thoughts about a future AI project and would like to spar.

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