Humans! Assemble!

Using AI to strip away creativity from people, feels pointless

There comes a time in all of our lives when we’re forced to ask ourselves the question ‘what exactly is the fucking point?’

It’s a powerful question.

Depending on your mood, it can be crippling or empowering, it can bring a feeling of hopelessness or one of focus. Or bewilderment. I mean, what is exactly the fucking point of the White Men Can’t Jump remake? 

No, me neither. Jacob Rees-Mogg? Do me a favour. Of two of the richest men in the world fighting in a cage? Well okay, I’ll give you that one.

Working with brands day in day out we ask ourselves that question too, on every project we do. The last thing the world needs is more things lacking any fucking point. I know, I know… what is the fucking point of this article? I’m getting to it, chill out.

The acceleration currently happening in the world of AI and Large Language Models is freaking many in the creative world out, and in particular the question of jobs. I heard a lot of chat about this from our Cannes-bound crew last week, it was obviously a hot topic for the chilled-glass-of-Rose brigade. Will the technology replace us? Will it augment us? Will it inspire? Will it lead to a regression to mediocre, mass-produced culture? All good questions, granted.

But I’ve been quite stunned by the amount of people focused on what the technology could do rather than what it should do.  In other words, what is the fucking point of it? And moreover, what’s the fucking point of us?

Back in the 19th century…

The Luddites revolted against the introduction of technology into their workplace.  A common misconception of the Luddites is that they were inherently ‘anti-technology’ — but in reality, they were fighting for economic justice. They objected primarily to the rising popularity of automated textile equipment, threatening the jobs and livelihoods of skilled workers as this technology allowed them to be replaced by cheaper and less skilled workers.

They were worried about being replaced, or being made to work for lower wages, because, you know, that would have sucked. But they were also raising an important point — when productivity goes up, then why should it be that the workers suffer?

In his brilliant book It’s OK to be Angry About Capitalism, Bernie Sanders notes that throughout the industrial revolution and into the technology revolution, productivity of workers in the US rose by 480%, and yet over the same period wages decreased on average by $50 a week.

It wasn’t the workers who saw the benefit of the technology, it was the owners, shareholders, big wigs. With advancements in AI tools, we are undoubtedly entering a period whereby we can increase the productivity of our staff exponentially. 

We could start to replace roles, we could start to cut corners on creativity, we could start to lower costs and build the AI creative agency of the future.

But what would be the point? Our business has been created to provide a home to people with a fierce desire to create. This instinct leads to great work and a vibrant culture. It makes us happy as founders, to value the creativity in people, and to give them work that is fulfilling and pays the bills.

Stripping that away, at any level, feels pointless. 

It is up to us, founders, owners, and leaders of any kind, to decide how we want to implement this new technology into our businesses. Undoubtedly it will lead to new methods, approaches, and new breakthroughs in creativity in marketing and beyond.

Yet the point — the fucking point, if you will — of running a business, has never been to focus solely on the output. We spend an average of nearly 90,000 hours of our lives (13 years) at work. That work should ideally be challenging, creative, and rewarding as a process for those that spend time on it. 

It’s worth remembering.

That’s the point.

Featured image: Humans / Channel 4

Chris Jefford, Co-Founder and CEO at Truant London

Chris Jefford has spent his 20-year career working across a range of media and technology roles. Starting his first business at the age of 14, Chris graduated with an Economics degree before moving into technology at the dawn of the Internet in 1998. Father of two and hip-hop devotee, he started his career working for a range of original dot-com start-ups, before settling in adland in 2006 working as the operations lead at Y&R on the Microsoft account.He went on to become Head of Digital at Holler, working with the likes of Channel 4 and Yahoo!, before moving to become Director of Innovation at Saint@RKCR/Y&R, where as one of the first employees, he was instrumental in helping the business grow to become agency of the year. In 2011, he left to start his current business, Truant London, with his partners Dave and Simon, where he is now CEO.

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