AI should not replace human talent

Livelihoods are more important than corporate profit

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A laptop in a dark room. The screen has blue coding on it, and the keyboard is lit up in red.
PHOTO: Rahul Pandit / Pexels

By: Cam Darting, Peak Associate

I often ask myself if artificial intelligence (AI) can predict the future, and tell us whether or not it will leave humans jobless. I don’t want to ask an AI software this, because I don’t want to give it any ideas. This area of the unknown seems to be a rising issue in many fields today, with it now being very prominent in the advertising field.

From commercials to graphics, AI is increasingly being used to generate advertisements. One example is the hotel booking app Trivago, and its ad that replaced 20 actors with one actor speaking different languages. Instead of hiring different actors for different languages, the company is now using AI to translate their ad campaigns. At first glance, AI may seem like a way for companies to be efficient. However, it poses a threat to those employed in advertising and translation fields. With AI being able to generate content at a quicker pace, workers like voice actors and actors are left in an unstable position. 

To compare how AI impacts livelihoods, let’s look at a different period where new technology was introduced across industries. During the industrialization period, it was thought that new inventions would cause unemployment, but this proved to be the opposite. Industrialization led to more job opportunities by providing workers more skills to learn. Some people argue a similar situation could be on the horizon, with AI opening up space for more employment opportunities. However, AI and machines are two very different things. AI can expand without human labour and undergo constant improvement, whereas machines are generally created for a limited use. AI threatens the very jobs it creates.

If they aren’t willing to pay for and work with humans, we shouldn’t be willing to support them.

Because of AI’s flexibility, it can threaten creatives by pulling from datasets that include their work, replicating comparable skills to humans. While AI can’t replace human talent, it can be alluring for repetitive tasks that require speed and efficiency. Quality aside, it can allow corporations to produce more content at a speed that outpaces human labour. AI can be a useful tool, but it should be just that — a tool. AI should be used to enhance a product, not create it. For instance, AI has been used to streamline tasks like cancer screening and assistive technology development. 

Experts predict that “90% of online content will be AI-generated by 2026.” We need to ask ourselves when what we deem as “innovation” is enough. Technological innovation shouldn’t trump the livelihoods of workers and creators. 

When big companies opt for AI-generated voiceovers or models because of cost and efficiency, we as a whole should hold them accountable for their ignorance and greed. If they aren’t willing to pay for and work with humans, we shouldn’t be willing to support them. If companies wish to use AI in the process of advertising, they should be willing to face the consequences if we as a society take a stance against it.

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