Tuesday, July 16, 2024
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AI Empowering Virtual PAs and Digital Artists

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Fancy seeing Pope “P. Diddy” Francis in a puffer jacket and King Charles and Queen Camilla rocking some slick moves at their coronation after-party? It’s all in an AI’s work for today’s clever image-generation bots, which are offering a fun artistic outlet for some while others ponder the ethics of creating deep-fake images from scratch.

Welcome to the fast-changing world of artificial intelligence – a potential minefield but also a garden of countless productivity possibilities, especially in the workplace. The trick is to teach the bots to make your life easier, not replace you.

Much has already been said about ChatGPT and how it’s transforming marketing and communications, but there’s far more to today’s ever-evolving generative technology landscape than just content chatbots.

Midjourney, for example, is an image-generation tool run on the Discord platform that amateurs and professional designers alike are enjoying playing around with. As with ChatGPT, the devil’s in the detail – it’s all about the quality of the prompts you give the bot.

For example, we asked Midjourney to create a hyper-realistic photo of a small loggerhead turtle swimming in the ocean. Here’s what it came up with (note the conjoined-twin turtle with two heads):

AI turtle art

Then we refined the prompt, using ChatGPT to generate a better text description of what we wanted, right down to the (imagined) camera and aperture used, and threw in Table Mountain in the background for good measure:

AI image of turtles

Not bad for fake digital images that have been completely made up – but there are some glaring flaws like the mountain (not being Table Mountain), and the quirky two-headed turtle is still there.

But if you keep fine-tuning your prompts and playing around with the tool, you may end up with something close to the result you desire – although it may just be easier and faster to source a free stock photo.

AI generative image tools such as Midjourney might be better deployed for artistic renderings in a certain style (such as anime) than for photorealistic images (see examples of both below), but it’s a good idea to draw up guidelines for how to use this kind of tech in your business.

It’s great for mood- and image-boarding mock-ups, for example, not to mention for mucking about conjuring up your own digital artworks, but perhaps not for creating original content for clients – unless it’s with their buy-in.

The jury’s still out on the ethics of using these tools for commercial gain or whether (and how) deploying them for artistic purposes should be disclosed, as technology outpaces our ability to regulate it. But it’s certainly fun to play with.

AI transcripts and ‘smart’ summaries

Another nifty AI hack we’ve been trying out at Flow Communications is using meeting transcription bots such as Otter.ai and Fireflies.ai. They serve as “virtual assistants”, gatecrashing your meetings, recording the audio and giving you transcriptions and summaries afterwards.

From what we’ve seen so far, they aren’t yet 100% accurate, not always catching nuances in accents, speech patterns and so on, but they’re a good starting point – and you can go in and tweak the transcription while playing back the recording.

Last year, for example, a team of Flow writers had to speed-type Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s speech in real time while she was delivering it at the Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture – and then quickly edit and publish the transcript within half an hour of the speech’s conclusion for the benefit of the national media. A tool such as this would have been an absolute godsend.

Can’t attend a vital Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meet session because you’re double booked? Send your virtual assistant into the meeting on your behalf, and this fly-on-the-wall bot will take notes for you to peruse afterwards. Be warned: you will likely confound attendees as to whether it’s really you in the meeting, or just your bot …

The technology we have at our disposal is truly mind-boggling. We can’t and shouldn’t ignore AI – it is far better to explore how it can enhance our productivity and streamline our “grudge” tasks like taking notes in meetings, leaving us with more time to do the things we really love.

To become future-fit, more businesses should explore and harness the possibilities of AI generative tech and machine learning to enrich their design, content, web development, ideation and brainstorming processes in a responsible manner. Don’t fear the beast – embrace it!

By Richard Frank, Chief Technology Officer at Flow Communications

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