I Am Frightened


This image was generated in five seconds using Adobe’s new text-to-photo Firefly program.
Obviously, not every image is perfect — yet!

I have seen the future and it frightens me: “AI” is truly lurking just outside.

Everyone, especially in the news media, is talking about Artificial Intelligence or “AI.” As I understand it, AI is not only on the verge of taking our jobs but within a few months computers will be hunting humans for sport. Color me skeptical — at least until this week.

While I’m not expert enough to predict if we will someday be forced to bow down to our all-powerful computer overlords, I’ve had a glimpse of the future regarding graphic arts and it is both stunning and scary.

If you have more than a passing familiarity with graphic design, you know Adobe manufactures the wildly popular Photoshop software, along with Illustrator, Audition, After Effects and Premiere Pro, among other things. Adobe is one of the most popular suites and considered a baseline standard among pros.

Adobe recently released Firefly, a “Creative Generative AI Engine” that works with Photoshop, Illustrator and Adobe Express (and is also trickling into other products). It’s not hyperbole to say it will be bigger than digital cameras and some people are saying it might even destroy photography. The same will eventually go for video, audio and other such endeavors.

With Firefly, you use text to build photos from scratch or modify them in ways that would have formerly taken high levels of expertise or hours of trial and error. My first attempt took the form of a rather juvenile request: “A badger in a cage.”

“I’ve had a glimpse of the future regarding graphic arts and it is both stunning and scary.”

To my shock, after a few seconds, I had several photo-realistic pictures of a badger standing inside a wire cage. In less time than it would have taken me to find a stock photo website, search for the subject — if such a photo existed — and download it, I had several choices to pick from. Granted, several of them were imperfect (in one case, the badger was sprouting wires from its head) but using five words and approximately five seconds yielded a couple of usable results. And, this is the “Beta” version.

Using the AI to retouch photos was even more incredible. I could easily change clothes on people, add things that weren’t there, erase major design elements and commit other such Photoshop magic with just a sentence. Even our ace art department, the true wizards at photo manipulation, couldn’t have possibly done it quicker or much better.

After a few such experiments, it was clear the day is coming when anyone can easily and effectively do visual design and editing. It’s clear things in the creative world are going to change — drastically and dramatically — and soon.

Computer-generated writing and voiceover is getting better, almost to the point where some of it isn’t painfully obvious. Now you can add visual arts to the mix. As this new human-soon-to-become-computer-based endeavor is progressing rapidly, we’re all in for a wild ride — and soon.

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