Can Technology and AI Augment Creativity?

Dr Kris Naudts, CEO & Founder, Culture Trip
Dr Kris Naudts, CEO & Founder, Culture Trip

Dr Kris Naudts, CEO & Founder, Culture Trip

The headlines about the promise and the threat of AI are relentless. Not a day goes by, it seems, without a new breakthrough or a new cause for concern.

Personally, I believe that technology, and particularly AI, can be used to enable and enhance creativity. In fact, I would argue it is imperative that media and creative companies today embrace technology and its capabilities in order to make progress.

I have observed in my life that technology and data are not enough on their own. In the same way that creativity and artistic skills are not enough on their own. The two skill sets must be intertwined in order to thrive.

  I believe that technology, and particularly AI, can be used to enable and enhance creativity 

Since its inception, Culture Trip has been able to sidestep the boundaries of traditional creative media output because we did not have the burden of a legacy, or much in the way of industry pre-conceptions.

In contrast, when I see legacy media companies embracing technology, it sometimes feels as though an engine is being fitted on to a horse. In the past, photography was primarily put to the service of the written word and illustration only figured when there wasn’t a good picture available to accompany a story. And of course, in the pre-digital world, animation couldn’t feature in publications.

From a digital perspective, it no longer makes sense for them to be separate. They all go together. No one is obligated to consume the written word and the visual arts as separate entities any more. Digital enables us to mix all these things together.

At Culture Trip, we see all aspects of our creative proposition as being equal, from articles and illustrations to video, photography and animation, all enabled by technology.

Now we are concentrating on how we can further apply technology and AI to support the efforts of our creators and writers. We’re asking how far tech can support commissioning, editing and production. By systematically analysing what people are searching for and how our 18 million users engage with content on our site, we can see where the gaps are and where there are opportunities.

We’ve built a “demand dashboard” that essentially automates the commissioning of content. The way we think about it is as a big grid, with user needs across the bottom and travel locations up the side. This allows us to map out the availability of and success rates for each type of content. Then at each point in the grid we measure the demand for a particular type of content, from the searches people are doing and how they’re engaging with our content, and balance this with the supply by looking at what already exists on the site. In this way we can analyse exactly what content we need to create next.

It’s entirely natural, I think, to apply AI to the creative process. A good part of the human creative experience is already algorithmic. Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy writes about this in his new book, The Creativity Code, highlighting how AI enables music and literature. And at Culture Trip we aim to invest heavily in what we call AI-augmented creativity, from using AI to facilitate and drive innovative creative endeavours, to personalisation and automating the more operational parts of the creative process.

There are extensive fears that AI will destroy many aspects of our jobs and lives and culture. That it will somehow replace creativity. Those fears seem unfounded. I am optimistic, in fact I am certain, that technology and AI open up many more creative avenues than it closes.

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