Skip to content
Artificial Intelligence: A positive revolution for the creative industries?
Sam WillisMay 31, 2024 9:43:29 AM18 min read

Artificial Intelligence: A positive revolution for the creative industries?

Is artificial intelligence a tool that democratises creativity or a force that will destroy jobs in the creative industries? We explore this massive topic with our expert staff.

Artificial Intelligence has dominated the discourse on a dazzlingly wide range of issues over the last few years. From politics, art, creativity, and technology to the very fabric of human society, the shadow of AI looms over the future of almost everything, and its development poses fascinating questions.

  • Is AI a force for good or the harbinger of the end of the world?
  • Can we control AI or is it already too far gone?
  • Will AI free us from the yoke of menial work or replace creativity altogether?
  • Will there be any jobs left?
  • How long is it until humanity makes a Skynet-level mistake and chrome-faced overlords start a nuclear apocalypse? 

The sense of doom around technological development is nothing new. Steam technology, seat belts, computers, mobile phones and social media all arrived with column inches decrying either a ‘nanny state’ or the end of the world. 

To find out what our community thinks, we asked them, via a LinkedIn Poll, what their feelings are about AI’s role in the creative industries. Despite the often damning rhetoric around AI, less than 20% labelled it as damaging to creatives. 39% claimed it was good for some sectors, but not all; 27% said they were all for Artificial Intelligence in the creative industries; while 15% didn't see it as useful.

There’s a lot of nuance when we talk about AI. There are some obvious benefits and clear dangers. Here, we are leaning on the expertise of our music and game module and course leaders to explore what kind of impact AI will have on the creative industries. Read on to discover what dBs Institute staff Chris Page (Online Module Leader), Greg Jamieson (Game Art & Game Development: Programming Course Leader) and William Sawyerr (Game Development: Programming Module Leader) think about the rise and potential revolution of AI.

The impact of AI on creative practice

(3) Chris Page - Tutor Headshot profileChris Page: AI is already having an enormous impact on most creative industries, leading to incredible new developments. As the evolution of AI continues to accelerate this impact is likely to increase and with it, the potential for it to fundamentally disrupt all of the creative industries and drastically change how all media is created, consumed and perceived. The rapid development of AI is raising many ethical and legal issues, challenging creatives, the industries in which they operate and society as a whole. On the one hand, AI technology is leading to a ‘democratisation’ of creativity whereby anyone without formal training or experience can create professional media; be that an essay, image, music, video or even code. This process is, arguably, creating more inclusive creative industries where anyone in society can contribute.

On the other hand, the underlying technology can be extremely problematic; for instance, when an AI model is trained on media without the copyright owner’s consent. It also raises the question of who owns content generated by an AI. Global legal systems cannot legislate quickly or robustly enough to keep up with these complex issues or the speed with which the technology is developing, raising the prospect of a ‘wild west’ of unregulated use of AI - not just in the creative industries. There are also many well-founded concerns about the impact of AI on jobs. Supposing an AI can write copy, design images and create and edit videos faster and more cost-effectively than a human, there is the potential for significant reductions in paid roles in the creative industries. But, for all these issues, new AI tools also undoubtedly provide an array of new creative possibilities, providing unparalleled opportunities for those embracing the technology and using it to push the boundaries of what is possible. 

Greg Jamieson: AI has already impacted the creative industries significantly. In games, we see a lot of AI functionality in production tools, such as engines and 2D software like Photoshop. These generative tools make mundane tasks more efficient and effective; laborious and repetitive tasks that used to require a great deal of time patience and skill, like background removal and rotoscoping, can now be automated. 

William Saywerr: AI is set to revolutionise the creative industries by offering new tools and capabilities that enhance the creative process. From my analysis, AI will act as both a collaborator and a tool for creatives. For instance, generative AI can help artists create unique visual artworks by providing new styles and techniques. It can analyse large datasets to identify trends and suggest innovative ideas, leading to entirely new genres and art forms. Moreover, AI can automate repetitive tasks such as colour correction, rendering, and editing, freeing time for creatives to focus on more innovative aspects of their work.

AI in the music industry

CP: I have been exploring many AI music tools over the last year and these are definitely having a significant impact already. For example, stem separation technology is incredibly effective now, opening up a swathe of creative possibilities for sampling, remixing and DJing. Similarly, AI vocals are now at a point where you can’t tell if a vocal is ‘real’ or AI-generated, once again ‘democratising’ the process of writing vocals for a song. I can’t sing well (at all!) but with AI, I can create a perfectly realistic vocal for a track. I’ve also trained an AI to generate my own ‘Neurofunk’ style bass sounds, creating new workflows and digital products for me to sell. 

As a university lecturer, I currently see several impacts, both positive and negative, on the way students learn. Firstly, students are leveraging these new tools to broaden their skills and explore new creative possibilities in the music world. They are also using these tools to help monetise their skills by being able to create websites and digital products far more easily using AI. However, some students have been tempted to use AI in unethical ways and have committed academic malpractice. New tools to detect the application of generative AI are being developed as fast as new tools to try to hide it. So, across many academic institutions, we now see that assessments are being redesigned to focus on practical skills and require detailed evidence of assessment creation to mitigate the misuse of generative AI. But it’s also an opportunity for academic institutions. People want to learn about AI and how to use it, so teaching students positively about how to use AI attracts students to study with us.

AI in the gaming industry

Greg Jamieson - Meet the Team Profile PictureGJ: AI technology will have the greatest impact on entry-level jobs within the gaming industry, due to the automation of junior practitioner tasks. Midjourney and Adobe Firefly can now generate all the 2D sprite sheets or texture maps as required, and Image to 3D is only improving, ensuring anything that you can take a photo of will no longer need to be modelled. That is not to say it will replace all 3D modelling jobs, as objects and structures that don’t exist may still require modelling - unless you wish to generate an image of the asset first.

Unfortunately, most entry-level positions will now be automated forcing practitioners to adapt and progress, which could devastate young graduates trying to break into the industry.

In the same way that specialists used to be required to build and publish a website, so many grifters and gatekeepers made a fortune selling these services to the unskilled or uninitiated. This has become the same for digital visual arts, where anyone can operate these tools to generate images, 3D or video. What I find surprising is the speed at which AI has been able to replace artistic workflows, essentially coming for what we as humans would call creativity, forcing us to question the very nature of creation. If you had asked someone in 2020 to write a list of which disciplines would be most affected, art and music would likely be low down that list.

It is important to distinguish between what, right now, is just an advanced tool, and Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). AGI will require a paradigm shift in society in so many directions. It is impossible to predict its impact, and much of it will depend on how we use and interact with it, presuming we have control over it at all.

WS: AI has already made significant strides in game development and VR. In game development we use AI for procedural content generation, allowing developers to create expansive and dynamic game worlds with less manual effort. This technology enables the creation of complex environments that adapt to player actions, making each playthrough unique. AI-driven non-player characters (NPCs) enhance gameplay by providing more realistic interactions, which makes the gaming experience more immersive and engaging.

In VR, AI enhances the realism and interactivity of virtual environments. AI can simulate realistic physics, lighting, and soundscapes, making VR experiences more believable. Additionally, AI can adapt these environments in real time based on user behaviour, providing a tailored experience that keeps users engaged.

Artificial intelligence in the next five years

CP: Until very recently, most AI music tools were developed by third-party companies outside the traditional music software Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). However, Logic Pro has now started to integrate AI tools and I only see this trend growing to the point where every DAW will have to include aspects of AI to stay competitive. We’ve seen this before where innovative companies develop new music technology like Melodyne or AutoTune and eventually, these tools become integrated into mainstream DAWs.

New entrants into the market, underpinned by AI technology, may also disrupt traditional DAWs. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a new major player in the DAW market, that nobody today has heard of, challenge traditional programmes like Ableton Live and Logic Pro within 5 years. It may become commonplace to have an AI assistant, which is either part of the DAW or can integrate seamlessly into one, capable of understanding and interpreting your voice or musical input and manipulating it for you in almost any conceivable manner.

GJ: In the next five years, new techniques, such as NeRFS and Gaussian Splatting, which utilise neural networks to solve 3D objects and whole scenes from film footage, will continue to develop significantly, allowing artists and producers to scale ideas easily.

Last year, announced the Move One capture app. This development potentially replaces the need for expensive motion capture suits, democratising a once very specialist and expensive process. This development is incredibly exciting for the industry and the use of these applications and companies is only going one way: up.

The cross-pollination of applications across disciplines is exciting, with agents learning how to navigate an environment in a game engine. Giving these agents procedural kinetics to animate themselves, they can explore their environment and adapt their movement accordingly. Training them at an accelerated rate with machine learning, the agents quickly evolve into entities extremely adept at navigating their environment. Swedish game company Embark was at the forefront of this research a couple of years ago, using spider-like agents ‘learning’ to navigate their environment, instead of building a database of animations and scripts for motion.

Since then, this methodology has also been applied to everything from in-game combat systems to real robotics. You only have to see what Disney’s Imagineer R&D team are producing with real walking and rolling robots being used for films instead of CGI. Specialists in robotics and engineering are still required, however, the techniques and processes utilised by combining procedural events with AI are reciprocal from traditional CGI, game and VFX workflows. Many robotics companies use the same 3D software we do.

Another area that has been in development for several years and is likely to develop further in the immediate future, is the work of Soul Machines, a company based in New Zealand and started by VFX & 3D practitioners, who have been working on AI virtual humans. Their work allows users to customise and train a ‘Digital Person’ for real-world tasks, like learning a new language or practising wellness. The possibilities and applications of this technology are endless and could become incredibly important in the next five years.

William Sawyerr-1WS: AI's impact on game development and VR will likely become even more pronounced in the next five years. I foresee the development of more sophisticated AI-driven game engines that can handle complex tasks like story generation and character development. These new engines will allow smaller studios and independent developers to create high-quality games without extensive resources.

For VR, I envision AI tools that can create hyper-realistic environments that respond to user inputs in increasingly nuanced ways. This will involve more advanced simulations of physical interactions and environmental changes, making VR experiences more immersive. AI could also play a role in personalising VR content, adjusting the difficulty and content based on the user's preferences and performance.

The artificial intelligence innovations going under the radar

CP: Areas that I’d like to see covered in the media more is how AI can be used positively to solve some of the biggest challenges we face as a species, such as; tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, new medicine discovery and energy generation and distribution. I think people would feel less sceptical and worried about the potential threat of AI if it was instrumental in making significant breakthroughs in these areas in the next few years.

GJ: Something that is talked about a lot, but still under-sold, is AI’s impact on society. The changes will be huge and require a massive rethink of our social structure and traditional cultural processes. Existing human constructs, such as the economy, must adapt as AI replaces humans in the workplace. These changes are hard for us to fathom, but we will be compelled to act too late if we don’t think seriously about them before they get ahead of us.

WS: One under-discussed application of AI is its potential in interactive and adaptive art installations. AI can create dynamic artworks that evolve based on audience interaction, providing personalised and unique experiences. This could revolutionise how art is experienced, making it more engaging and accessible. On the negative side, the increasing sophistication of deepfake technology poses significant risks. Deepfakes can create highly convincing but entirely fabricated visual and audio content, which could be used maliciously for misinformation or privacy invasion.

AI: Good or bad for creativity and the creative industries?

CP: We’re starting to witness whole new creative concepts that simply weren’t possible before. Want to hear your favourite song sung by a different artist’s voice? You can use AI to do that now. Want to put your face into Jan Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait? You can use AI for that too (I’ve done this - don’t ask!). AI tools not only give creators new ways to create but also give anyone who wants to, the chance to make almost anything. This is a good thing, and perhaps like the period when Van Eyck was working, we could well be witnessing the start of a new Renaissance of unprecedented creativity.

Now anyone, regardless of their ability, can easily use an AI tool to create a realistic image in the style of a master like Van Eyck. Video and music are similarly ‘democratised’ with advanced text prompt models that can generate content with just a few (well-chosen) sentences. It may soon be possible to create a full-length feature film from a bedroom, meaning anyone could make a film that could compete with Hollywood. There could also be new ways for creatives to monetise their IP. For example, a singer can create an AI model of their voice and license it to individuals or companies. Other creatives are already using services like ChatGPT to learn new skills such as coding which they can use to develop digital products, which in turn can unlock new creative potential and revenue streams.

However, there remain significant potential downsides and yes, dangers, of AI in the creative industries. Anyone can now create a realistic ‘Deep Fake’ of another person and have them fairly convincingly say and do whatever they like with little legal consequence. The potential downsides (aside from defamation) are wide-ranging. In extremes, this technology could be used to manipulate elections, commit fraud and spread misinformation. Some areas of the creative industries could become heavily disrupted. For example, companies like ElevenLabs and Suno can now create sophisticated and realistic complete tracks indistinguishable from human-generated music. This could completely change the music industry, destroying the potential for individual artists to succeed, or even killing whole industries like production library music. In the future, might we see the possibility that platforms like Spotify are flooded with AI ‘artists’, reducing payouts and visibility on the platform for human artists? Well, that’s already started to happen…

Ultimately, though, the genie is out of the bottle now so let’s hope it’s largely positive! I think new technology usually presents opportunities and if used intelligently and creatively it can be a real positive for individuals. There is nevertheless the potential for it to cause a lot of serious issues. I see parallels between the arrival of AI and previous technological milestones, with society often sceptical and worried about new technology. Victorians worried that travelling on steam trains could suffocate or shake you to death, however, the steam train’s impact on the world has been immeasurable. That’s not to say this impact was completely positive as they were extremely polluting; so it will be with AI. There will be winners and losers but in the end, it’s hard to see how AI technology won’t become a standard part of most of our lives in the (not too distant) future.

AI Raw Featured Image

GJ: On the one hand, AI will make it easier for independent and sole developers to realise their vision. Artists are already visually programming games, and now programmers can build assets with AI. As technical artists, we can lean heavily on tools like GPT4 and Devin, to produce functional code for 3D applications and game engines.

On the other hand, I fear the continued development of AI will ultimately lead to job loss in the creative industries. Entry-level, lower-skilled jobs are already dwindling. As the technology develops, higher-skilled jobs will also begin to drop off.

Additionally, artificial intelligence may cost us the ability to understand and translate the fundamental processes of creativity and creative practice. The further detached one is from the mechanics of a piece of work, the more that is lost in the process. Distilling art into its final form without the peaks and troughs, the ups and downs, loses sight of the narrative that can make games, films and other visual work so interesting. We already see this impact in movies with big visual effects, which can often feel sanitised; cleansed of any noticeable human involvement.

Ultimately, however, creativity will always be in demand. It’s my strongly held belief that real artistry will always prevail. Whether someone has put the effort into constructing a 10,000-word detailed prompt that generates a scene for a film using AI, or a team of like-minded creatives build the same scene with traditional tools and techniques, it is about the work - the amount of energy one is prepared to put into realising a vision.

WS: The proliferation of AI in the creative industries offers several benefits. One significant advantage is enhanced creativity. AI can be a brainstorming partner, providing new ideas and perspectives that help creatives push their boundaries. Additionally, AI can reduce production costs by automating routine tasks and making creative projects more financially accessible. This democratisation of creativity means more people can participate in the creative process, leading to a richer and more diverse range of artistic outputs.

Despite its benefits, AI also presents several risks to the creative industries. One major concern is job displacement. As AI becomes more and more capable of performing tasks traditionally done by humans, there is a risk of reduced job opportunities in fields like graphic design, illustration, and content creation. Another concern is the perpetuation of biases. AI systems trained on biased data can produce biased outputs, reinforcing stereotypes and producing controversial content. Additionally, over-reliance on AI might lead to a homogenisation of creative works, where the unique human touch is diminished, potentially stifling true creativity and innovation.

A possible solution to mitigate these circumstances is to implement robust AI ethics guidelines and continuous human oversight. This includes diverse and inclusive training data to minimise biases and ongoing auditing to ensure outputs align with ethical standards. Additionally, promoting a hybrid approach where AI augments human creativity rather than replaces it can help preserve the unique aspects of human input. By focusing on AI as a collaborative tool, creatives can leverage their strengths while maintaining the distinctive qualities that only human touch can provide. Moreover, investing in education and training programmes to upskill the workforce can prepare individuals for new, emerging roles as AI continues to evolve.

On balance, I believe AI is a positive force within the creative industries, provided its risks are managed carefully. The benefits of AI, such as enhanced creativity, cost reduction, and democratisation of creative tools, offer significant advantages that can drive innovation and make creative processes more accessible. However, it is crucial to address the challenges of job displacement, ethical use, and maintaining the integrity of human creativity. By finding a balance that maximises AI's benefits while mitigating its risks, AI can be a powerful ally in the creative process.

Have you found these insights on AI interesting? Chris, Greg and William are part of our Postgraduate faculty. Learn more about our Master’s courses and apply to study under their guidance!