Artificial Intelligence is no longer a vague concept of the future. The reality is, most of us are already using A.I. to run our businesses on a daily basis. We just haven’t realized it yet.
In today’s episode of the “Sean Earley Podcast,” I discuss NFT’s, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and how this disruptive new technology is changing both, the way we work, and how it will permanently change our creative businesses in the near future.
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Feeding the Giant Media Monster
The one commonality that we all have as creative professionals is that our business involves creating digital content that feeds into the giant spinning vortex that is modern media.
We spend endless, repetitive hours analyzing, planning, and creating strategic digital content, optimizing it for multiple formats, and then aggregating it out to multiple social media platforms to be bought, sold, and consumed on a multitude of ever-changing devices.
The good news is that this “running a creative business by feeding the giant media machine” process will not go away. In fact, it will only continue to grow and be more relevant as we move into the future
So, no worries… “Creating cool stuff to promote and sell on the internet” isn’t going away. Skynet isn’t going to terminate our jobs… or us. At least in the next 10 to 20 years or so…
What WILL change, however, is how the rapidly evolving technology of artificial intelligence, blockchain and NFT’s amplified by high speed 5G networks and devices will transform how we create and market our content as well as the creative process itself.
Artificial Intelligence Becomes Real
In last year’s RobotSpaceship trend report I wrote about how the Covid19 pandemic was forcing corporations to tackle artificial intelligence and machine learning head-on to solve critical pandemic-related problems.
Motivated buy the fear of economic ruin combined with a global public health disaster, corporations quickly ramped up of what was previously R&D-related tech projects and pushed them live.
The result was a 500% increase in AI usage and development in 2020/2021, in areas such as identifying problems, sales and marketing apps, healthcare, cybersecurity, as well as facial and thermal recognition.
But it isn’t just the speeding up of AI for complex analysis that we are seeing, but also, a huge surge in creative and marketing-related AI applications.
These include creative writing, image editing, creation and audio production tools, as well as platforms that analyze data and media and edit and aggregate it out into the web.
Yet, despite all the promise of these new applications, what we failed to realize is that AI is not just a future technology, but it is actually here, right under our noses, and has been for some time.
Creative professionals, especially artists, authors and musicians, are using this tech every day to conduct our digital business and to be creative.
As of the time of the writing of this article, almost 50% of all global web searches are being performed via voice search, involving voice assistants such as Google, Siri and Alexa.
Every day we use apps such as Grammarly, Conversion.ai, AI-Writer, Photoshop, webchats and video chats all have AI baked right into them (such as facial recognition and cropping out images and video backgrounds) to create and edit content, save time, streamline our processes and get new ideas.
As we move into the future, these apps will continue to evolve and streamline more and more mundane, repetitive topics. They will free us up to be more spontaneous and optimize the times where creative inspiration hits us.
But how does that actually apply to creative professionals?
Let’s consider the evolving role of a designer for example:
Where we were: Specialists
In the past designers were specialists: graphic designers, web designers, architects, musicians, writers
Where we are now: Product Designers
As multi-touchpoint, multimedia focussed digital businesses evolved, we had to adapt and transition into product designers (where we are now.) We are all generalist business owners that require multiple skills such as design, internet marketing, sales, strategy, user experience, creative writing, sales etc. We simply can not be a creative professional or an influencer these days without having a wide spectrum of digital skills.
Where we will be: System designers
In the near future, with the help of more and more AI focussed systems, we will evolve again into a new type of “system designer” with more focus on defining the filters that allow the AI applications to deliver the required results. There will be much less need to do the specialized or even generalized grunt work of mundane repetitive tasks and instead focus more on telling the AI what results you want from it.
In theory, at least, this will free up our ability to truly be creative and relevant.
- We will still need storytellers
- We will still need art, music and creative writing
- We will still need morality and humanistic quality injected into the mix
- We will still need people to tell the AI what to do and what to make, because machines are very bad at coming up with unique ideas. Only “remixes” or variations of existing ideas.
Merging with the Machine
As our creative efforts and AI-assisted media get fed into the constantly growing media machines of the future, the AIs themselves will be constantly analyzing this new information to aggregate into new forms of media.
In other words, in order for AI to learn, it needs to analyze existing information and media in order to create new variations.
This brings up the question: how do we track and claim ownership of our original content, after an AI chews it up, and spits it out into a new form of media.
The answer is blockchain!
As AI continues to evolve, it will also start to intersect with the blockchain, primarily in the form of NFTs.
What is an NFT?
NFT stands for non-fungible token. It is a unit of data on a blockchain, where each NFT can represent a unique digital item, and thus they are not interchangeable.
NFTs can represent digital files such as art, text, books, audio, videos, items in video games, and other forms of creative work. Once created, you can sell the NFT for a value in cryptocurrency.
The owners of the NFT, own the NFT like a collectible, which they can keep or trade or sell for a higher value. (Example: Here is my Rarible shop where I feature some of my artwork that I tuned into NFTs.)
NFT artwork has been getting a ton of media attention in the past few months after the digital artist known as Beeple, sold an NFT of digital art for $69 million. This resulted in a huge surge in Cryptocurrency prices like Ethereum as well as a LOT of creators making NFT’s out of almost everything. This resulted in an oversaturation of really poor quality and unoriginal NFT art.
In addition to expensive digital art (both good and bad quality), the real promising future of NFT tech is that it allows for an easily trackable ownership reference to any type of digital content.
This will be critical for new forms of AI aggregated media, but also for existing types of media.
“OK, Computer… make me a hip-hop hit song!”
As an example of how all of this could play out in the real world, let’s say that I am a music producer.
I want to tell the machine to create a hip-hop song, in a certain tempo, key and include today’s most recently released beat samples from Splice and cross-referenced with the hit song styles of what is popular today on billboard and TikTok.
I want to include AI simulated vocals from two different rappers’ styles and a voice-over from another female vocalist style. The lyrics written by an AI copywriter will be about today’s most highly searched news topic keywords with a certain percentage of what was popular this month on MotorTrend as well as what was in fashion at this year’s Paris Fashion show.
When it is done, I tell it to mix the track, master it, create a music video in 20 different social media formats and upload it to all the music platforms and social media channels.
Once the song is out on the web, every single data reference is connected to the blockchain via an NFT, so that all the original owners of samples, vocal styles and production receive a percentage of the royalties in cryptocurrency payments, in whatever form that might be.
Sound far-fetched? I don’t think so.
Consider this article about how AI is being used to replace human pop stars with AI vocals! This is just one real-world application that is being developed now, not years into the future!
To take it a step further, brands no longer need to rely on real live talent for promotion. Consider Lil Miquela, who is a completely CGI-created digital avatar influencer with over 3 million followers.
While both examples are very clear signs of where the future is heading, both still require creative minds to come up with concepts and act as puppet masters behind the scenes.
To summarize, new tech such as artificial intelligence and blockchain is here to stay and is rapidly evolving in ways that will change the way in which we conduct our businesses and produce our creative products and services.
How can you take advantage of AI, blockchain and NFT’s to strategically position your business for the future?
A few tips:
- Adapt an AI-First / Blockchain-First Business Model – Use the tech now! While I jump ahead into the future of “what could be” with future tech in order to give you some insight into what is coming, don’t forget that sometimes the reality is really all about what “currently is.” Use the tools that are already available. Engage with AI based apps and blockchain tech on a regular basis to grow, evolve and stay ahead of the competition.
- Stay up to speed with AI and Blockchain Topics – Watch the space, stay informed and stay involved!
- Stay open-minded and positive about the future. Don’t be afraid of this new tech. Envision all of the amazing opportunities to grow your future digital businesses.
Let me leave you with a final quote from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr, who said:
“The more things change, the more they stay the same”
The future will be different but in many ways exactly the same. The future is also here, right now, so don’t be afraid to jump in and gain the advantage.
I have made a personal commitment to adapt to an AI-First / Blockchain-First business model moving forward. I will be sure to share any new news, ideas or advice on these topics as it progresses.
It is a new territory to explore for all of us and I am very excited about all of the future potential.
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Sean Earley is an American digital consultant, podcast host, speaker, publisher & music producer. He advises Fortune 500 companies, entrepreneurs and organizations on innovation, new technology, strategy, communications, marketing & design. He is the host of several podcasts and makes regular appearances on international media platforms where he discusses the latest trends in technology, culture, business and politics.