10 Dec 2023
Luke Jamieson, CX thought leader shares his insights on the impact of AI
With every man and their dog talking, developing, selling, or using Artificial Intelligence (AI), it might seem bold or even backward to suggest that AI might be the catalyst for a resurrection of the arts, primitive living, and human connection. However, the more I think about it the more I think that is exactly what is on the horizon. I believe we find ourselves on the brink of a new cultural renaissance—a reawakening of appreciation for the timeless crafts and artistic expressions of the past. This resurgence won’t be driven by the technology itself, but rather by our reaction to it. I believe that the way it is dehumanised digital interactions will spark a desire for us to reconnect with our roots and deepen our desire for something not more real, just…real.
I’m predicting that AI will be the initiator of a societal journey back to the heart of artistic and human connection. My gut tells me that as AI continues to advance and permeate our lives, it will lead us into a new era of appreciation for things like hand-crafted art, film photography, human-to-human conversation, and maybe even articles like this one, written by a human with all the emotion and grammatical errors that comes from being real. I think AI’s rise to dominance will be the catalyst for rekindling our connection with time-honoured forms of expression.
Time honoured vs Time Saved
When something can be done quickly and easily by everyone it loses its value. Let’s take AI-generated art for example. It has made anyone with an imagination (prompt:/imagine) an artist. Don’t get me wrong, AI has demonstrated some impressive capabilities in generating art and I am continually stunned by what Midjourney produces when I prompt it. However, I am yet to find myself saying that I feel connected to the art or the artist when looking at it. This is why, despite how impressed I am by what is produced, I am drawn to the time-honoured way art is created. The rise of AI-generated art has ignited in me a renewed interest in traditional techniques and craftsmanship.
When I see AI-generated art, I can’t help but ponder the essence of creativity and what it means to be human. This contemplation has led me to a greater appreciation for the skills and emotions embedded in traditional art forms. Of late I have found myself painting and although I’m no Michelangelo, I feel like the process and experience of creating the art is vastly different to that of what I have experienced with AI-generated art tools like Midjourney. When painting, I noticed that I get immersed in the process, lost in the creation, my mind becomes clear and my hands do a lot of the thinking, constantly making micro adjustments that are within my control as the painting comes to life. I’m reminded of this ugly statue called the Homunculus Man which represents how our body uses its senses by oversizing the areas of our body that sense the most.
In contrast, when I am generating images in Midjourney, I am constantly thinking about how to adjust my prompts, often frustrated by outcomes and I feel like I have less control over the process.
Now, admittedly, I am a bit of a creative person and people often say things to me like “oh I wish I was creative like you”. In reponse, I say, “It’s not how creative you are it’s how your creative”. So, you could argue that one’s ability to write great prompts is an art form and a form of creativity. However, when there are websites that you can buy prompts from, I am pretty sure that there is no website you can instantly buy painting skills from that don’t require time and practice.
The Instant Gratification Conundrum
I think that most of us know what is good for us. A well-prepared meal with healthy ingredients, a run, meditation or quality time and conversation with trusted friends. Yet we opt for fast food, the couch, TikTok and asynchronous conversations. That’s because we are pre-programmed to exude as little energy as possible to obtain the things that will help us stay alive. It’s a survival technique that served us well when we were running from lions and hunting and gathering. But let’s be honest, I doubt anyone reading this is in that situation today.
You would think that as we evolved and made food easier to put on the table and reduced the threat of getting eaten ourselves, we might have stopped and smelled the roses. However, we can’t shake thousands of years of evolutionary DNA, so we are continually striving for faster and more efficient ways to do everything. But by doing so we lose a few things, the excitement of anticipation and the joy of wondering.
Recently my daughter was given a disposable camera. I was fascinated to watch her carefully plan and decide what and when she would capture something. Then when it was time to get the film developed, I saw the wonder and excitement of waiting to see how everything would look. I’ll let you guess which photos she treasures more, the 4000 plus in her camera roll or the 24 that find pride of place on her bedroom wall.
This made me well… wonder about wonder. I came to the conclusion that wonder creates space. Space for our minds to be curious, creative and innovative. I also think that wonder creates space to let appreciation and gratitude grow. The wait improves the reward. Yet we short-change ourselves on this reward when we hit the instant gratification button and worse, we short-change others, for example:
My 6-year-old daughter: “Dad, have you ever wondered…”
Me: “Hey Alexa”
We do this because it is so easy, and we forget the joy of wonder.
We are driven by DNA passed down generation after generation to find the quickest, most energy-efficient way to get something.
Even Better than the Real Thing?
When U2 wrote Even Better than the Real Thing, they were not talking about AI (far from it) but I am to think that is what we are trying to achieve with AI. Chatbots and voice assistance that replace the need for human interaction. AI that can write articles for you. AI that can drive for you. The list goes on but let me ask you to stop and ponder something. Is there anything better than the real thing?
I believe that beyond anything else, we yearn for authentic connections and experiences. AI has the power to enable this, but not be this. This is why customer service will always need a human.
The best AI’s enable us to connect with each other on a human level. They can take out binary tasks such as searching for answers and can help reduce our cognitive load with things like next best actions, affording us the opportunity to make space for empathy, passion and maybe even some wonder. When AI is a guide, it can provide a unique opportunity for a deeper and more deliberate form of human connection.
AI is here to stay so we must find ways to use artificial intelligence to unlock wonder, connection, and passion, rather than replacing traditional forms of human expression and connection. As we integrate AI into our daily lives, we must decide if it is enhancing, or diminishing the beauty and depth of our human experiences.
As I conclude this article, if any of this has got you wondering, pondering or maybe a little curious then perhaps take a moment to enjoy and experience the sense of wonder just a moment longer before you google it.
Until next time and as always