The applications of text-to-image generators like Midjourney & Co. are endless. The quality with which the new AI tools generate images is stunning, says //next author Markus Sekulla. He wonders whether the concern among many creative professionals is justified.
The Internet has caught on and is more than just a fad. That can be said with bordering certainty now, 23 years into the new millennium. Still, there are always people at the beginning who are negative about emerging technologies. I was too young to hear the naysayers with the Internet back then, but I was able to enjoy the process from feature phones, like Nokia, to Apple's smartphones with popcorn on my sofa. There were also voices that it was just a gimmick and would not catch on. It's nice that AI has now had its "iPhone moment" with ChatGPT.
What I find very exciting about the current trend of artificial intelligence is that no one is saying that the technology won't catch on. Here, most people hope that it won't catch on. Why? As an amateur psychologist, I would diagnose it as "fear of losing control." Tracking on the Internet is characterized by fear of job loss, but we won't go into that in particular here. Let's just say that in the beginning it was mainly copywriters who feared for their jobs, but in the meantime the world of programmers and designers (and many more) are also affected by this fear. This is also due to the fact that AI is not equal to ChatGPT, but countless other tools are on the market. Today we want to dedicate ourselves to the probably best known image generator.
Let me take you with me on a tour on how generative AI will change things in the media industry within the next years. And let’s use a recent example for it.
Marketing 2023 - a shortened example: All trades come together on one day to photograph Heidi Klum and her daughter Leni for a lingerie brand in a secluded location. A bit of postproduction and Photoshop on top of that, off to the printing company and we see the campaign on the Düsseldorf Rhine promenade.
Marketing 2024 - a shortened example: All the trades come together on a single day. A person enters a generative AI such as Midjourney with the most sophisticated prompt possible that the AI should please create a picture of Heidi and Leni with the new collection. A bit of postproduction and Photoshop on top, off to the printing company and we see the campaign on the Rhine promenade in Düsseldorf.
The applications of text-to-image generators like Midjourney and co. are endless. I can have the New York skyline generated in Van Gogh style. Or highest ecclesiastical dignitaries in down jackets. Unfortunately, you can't use Midjourney free of charge anymore, but there are some other competitors on the market that work similarly well. Leonardo, Stable Diffusion or DALL-E 2 to name but a few.
Midjourney is especially in the headlines because potentials are of course already exploited by the dark side of the web. I don't even like to imagine the deceptively real images that will appear in next year's 2024 U.S. elections. I see that as a danger, too. For years now, we have had to come to terms with the fact that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. In truth, we had this competence far earlier in our lives, because at some point we realized that the Santa Claus story wasn't true either. But the competence that pictures are not just a little photoshopped, but come entirely out of thin air, is something we have yet to develop.
I hope we succeed quickly, because we won't get there with classic tools like limiting or watermarking. Media literacy is needed. This will become increasingly important in the next few years, and it's hardly possible to say that now.
Text, sound and image are already here. Soon, better video creators are sure to hit the mass market. Here, too: Media literacy, media literacy, and more media literacy.
The future of generative AI remains exciting. Many creative professionals are afraid for their jobs. I'll venture a prediction: the top people in each profession will continue to find good jobs - it will be harder for the others. The trick, in my opinion, is to learn to use the new AI tools proactively for your own work - in other words, to use them to deliver even better results yourself instead of letting them replace you.
Text: Markus Sekulla