As 2023 comes to an end, the hype around artificial intelligence has mostly subsided. While common AI tools have integrated into our daily workflows, less promising experiments have faded into obscurity. ChatGPT hasn't taken over the world (yet), and we haven't lost our jobs (yet). AI is normal.
However, normality in the age of artificial intelligence does not mean stagnation. Generative AI, increasingly powerful algorithms, and emerging technologies will have an even greater, epochal impact on our future—whether we like it or not.
In the face of this change, creativity, a hitherto purely human quality, does not lessen the pressure of finding one's place in this new normality. Those who reject new technologies will be left behind; those who fully embrace self-automation will be replaced by AI. To avoid this lose-lose situation, adaptation is necessary. For instance, by inventing and embracing a new role: Prompt Engineers are those honored individuals who are coveted experts in feeding tasks, the "prompts," to AI tools.
The machine becomes the executing force, while the creative human is coerced into a guiding, steering role. The human workers, those involved in "menial" tasks like writing texts, designing graphics, setting typography, etc. … are replaced. Simultaneously, the stereotype of the great creative genius struck by inspiration during their shower is propagated. The executing team is made invisible or, in the case of automated production, completely eliminated. A small step for cost optimization, a giant leap backwards for us all. Design that entirely relinquishes executing processes to machines loses itself in a monotonous artificially generated sauce. Acceptance of AI-mass-produced goods delivers the final blow to high-quality (and functional!) design, for which DIY branding, Fiverr, and crypto-art paved the way.
Of course, Prompt Engineers bear no blame for the rationalization and economic "optimization" of the creative process. Workers cannot be faulted for doing their best to secure their future survival in capitalism. Utilizing existing technologies to compensate for scarce resources like time and practical skills is not an ethical failure; On the contrary, the theoretical potential to gain entirely new insights with AI in an epistemological, hyper-democratic creative process already exists. What is lacking are visions of a truly creative practice that can look beyond the technocratic self-cannibalization and present a proposal for the future in which all creative workers have a place.
Yes, AI can assist us in designing our lives, but it cannot design our lives for us. What we do as creative individuals is more than arranging pixels in a statistically "correct" order. We take responsibility for conveying our clients' messages in a way that holds value for us humans. This is not just our claim, but also our duty. It's a responsibility that we cannot transfer to artificial intelligence. Unlike AI, we see the humans behind our target audiences and create communication because we believe that only through this can meaningful conversations be built. This applies not only to our team members who (successfully and happily!) work with AI, but to all team members along the entire journey from concept to the final output.