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OpenAI’s Mira Murati Acknowledges Some Creative Jobs Could Go Away, But is Company Doing Anything to Protect Artists from AI?

Last Updated June 24, 2024 8:26 PM
James Morales
Last Updated June 24, 2024 8:26 PM

Key Takeaways

  • OpenAI CTO Mira Murati has acknowledged that AI tools are likely to make some creative jobs obsolete.
  • However, overall she said that AI “has the potential to democratize creativity on an unprecedented scale.”
  • Meanwhile, artists and creatives of various stripes are weary of the threat to their livelihoods.

From writing to graphic design, AI is increasingly used to carry out tasks that would once have been performed by a human. Not since the nineteenth century has the world witnessed the automation of labor on such a massive scale. And in this story, OpenAI’s artificial intelligence models are modern versions of the steam-powered weaving loom.

But will tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E and SORA inevitably be met with reactionary, neo-Luddite resistance? Or can OpenAI work to benefit artists and creatives? Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati believes the latter, but others disagree.

OpenAI CTO Comments on AI’s Impact on Creative Jobs

Discussing how she expects AI to transform the world of work in the coming years, Murati predicted that “some creative jobs maybe will go away.” However, she added that “maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place.”

This narrative is as old as automation itself. Pascal’s Arithmetic Machine made the work of human calculators obsolete. But with it, mathematicians and engineers could focus on higher-order problems, delegating menial calculations to their new mechanical assistants. 

Murati’s comment that “AI has the potential to democratize creativity on an unprecedented scale” points to an evolving understanding of creativity itself. 

In a world in which anyone can generate crisply rendered AI images of almost anything they can think of, mastering tools like Photoshop is no longer the prerequisite for digital design it once was. Increasingly, they are only used to add the finishing touches after AI models have done the bulk of the leg work. Similar observations can be made in the realm of writing or video production too.

Imagination and a well-honed artistic sensibility are still the fundamental currencies of creativity. But prompt design and AI literacy are becoming more important in various creative fields.

“With AI tools taking on more repetitive or mechanistic aspects of the creative process […] we can free up human creators to focus on higher-level creative thinking and choices,” Murati declared on X. 

But for all her idealism, concerns about the threat to creative jobs remain. Especially when AI models can so easily replicate the style or voice of a specific artist.

Creatives Accuse AI Developers of Stylistic Theft

In May, two voice actors sued the AI voiceover developer LOVO for allegedly using their voice recordings to produce its products without their consent.

Ironically, Paul Skye Lehrman and Linnea Sage became aware of the alleged misappropriation when they listened to a podcast about the rise of AI and the threat it posed to the livelihoods of entertainment professionals. To highlight the problem, the host conducted an interview with a talking chatbot created by LOVO. But to the actors’ surprise, the AI-generated voice sounded uncannily like Mr. Lehrman, they told  the New York Times.

Shortly after, OpenAI was also accused of stealing actors’ voices when Scarlet Johansen said that a new ChatGPT voice feature “sounded so eerily similar to mine that my closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference.”

In a similar vein, dozens of visual artists have claimed that image-generation tools like Midjourney and DALL-E were trained on their work without permission. 

Who Benefits Most From AI?

Considering the popularity of “in the style of X” type prompts, does AI really just free people from the “repetitive or mechanistic aspects” of creativity? Or does it directly take jobs from artists?

Reacting to the kind of argument Murati espouses, comic book illustrator Jamie Noguchi noted that many artists don’t want a job that revolves around prompt engineering.

“Business majors are going to take these jobs,” not artists, he said , adding that, “I think it’s a little bit more complicated than just adapt or die.” 

Murati likes to imagine that AI will free creatives from the monotonous drudgery of working in corporate settings. But in reality, industries like advertising have traditionally provided secure jobs for many artists who would otherwise struggle to find work. 

Just like the nineteenth-century Luddites, Noguchi and his peers do not object to automation per se, only the unequal distribution of wealth it creates. 

As he observed, far from being liberated by new AI tools, today’s artists and designers are among the most negatively impacted. Meanwhile, the oft-celebrated AI productivity boost is most valuable to marketers, branding professionals and business managers.

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