An alligator riding a bicycle
I think it's time to talk about AI. My problem up to this point is that there have been very few "AI" tools that I consider to be real AI. Machine learning is a subset of AI, whereby you build algorithms on top of training data in order to obtain a predictable result against future data, or to enable decision support. Examples of ML include email filtering, speech recognition, spam/malware detection and business process automation. That's great and these are all really useful tools. Who care if I don't consider ML to be "real" AI if it performs a valuable business function for you?
While you're pondering that, let's talk about an alligator riding a bicycle. Now, this doesn't make much sense but suppose that I needed that image to support a conceptual idea. We know that graphics magnify the impact, and understanding, of words. My graphic talents are limited to PowerPoint, so no. I could search the web for a royalty-free image but what's the chance some artist in India thought they might make a few bucks off an image like this? Have they ever even seen an alligator?
Or, I could use an AI tool called Craiyon. Craiyon is an AI-based image generator that accepts input from a simple textual prompt. So if you type in "alligator riding a bicycle" and wait a couple of minutes you get an image similar to what I have here. I created the image above free for use in this article (admittedly, the title is clickbait but if you're here reading this it worked.)
The cool thing about Craiyon is that it generates art without the training data that ML requires. There aren't examples of alligators riding bicycles on the Internet, this is a wholly-new image created by the AI tool on the fly.
Craiyon is the successor to a tool called Dall-E. Dall-E 2 is an improved version of the tool but not yet available for general use. The image above is "an astronaut riding a horse on the moon" generated by Dall-E 2. Note how much more photorealistic this image is.
Why should you care about this? First, if you're a graphic artist you need to consider the future competitive landscape and impact to your business strategy. Second, if you're someone like me who needs images that support abstract concepts and want them quickly and inexpensively, this is state of the art at this time.
Lastly, look for 10 years of investment in AI to begin bearing fruit for all of us. AI is going to continue the trend of enabling business leaders to create the benefits of advanced technology without the need for an intermediary. The mantra of "people, process and technology" is moving toward simply "people and process" as much of the technology will be embedded within the process and abstracted from the users (ERP users have been seeing this for a few years, as tools like SAP and Oracle enable them to "orchestrate" business processes without real customization.) I have no idea what's going on behind the scene with Craiyon; I am only interested in the outcomes it produces.
You've heard me say "there are no IT projects; there are only business projects." Maybe there are no longer going to be any art projects either.