#writerscrawl: Big Bang - the rise of the robot writers | DMA

Copywriters! Run for your lives! Well, maybe not that drastic, but this final session from Big Bang took us in close for a look artificial intelligence and what that might mean for copywriters.

The Big Bang wrapped up with a panel discussion on AI and creativity. Led by Justin Pearse, MD at Drum Works, we also heard from Kurt Strong, lead creative at M&C Saatchi, Sam Scott, head of video at The Drum and Justin Taylor, MD at Teads.

Will automation threaten the creative industry?

There are, our panel seemed to agree, opportunities and threats that AI and automation will bring to the creative world.

Kurt suggested that advertising is perhaps too insular at times to realise the benefits of tech, and that while Silicon Valley thrives and start-ups spring out of the landscape, ad land is dosing through a tech revolution.

Justin pointed-out that machines do create outputs like headlines and are programmed to see what works best, and learn from responses. So the creative industry as a whole needs to be more aware of AI.

Where will AI not encroach on creativity?

Sam picked up on this and told our audience that there are no safe areas. Any artform can be digitised and data-structured, so there are no natural limits to what AI can do in the creative space.

For Kurt is was not aboutthe impact of AI, good or bad, it was more about how humans can own the game and re-purpose tools and tech for use as writers and creators. Justin also agreed, and added that creatively, we mustn’t fear this march of the machines, but make AI work to our rules.

Is AI this just another buzzword? And when should copywriters get really involved with AI?

“Think now, embrace now, but don’t worry,” Justin told the Big Bang. Why? Because the notion of copywriting will change with AI, and present opportunities on diverse platforms that could really thrill copywriters.

Kurt brought up the topic of algorithms – something that affects everyone, creative or not.

There are algorithms to decide what people are buying, what copy is effective, that re-write headlines. And although chatbots are still young, they are getting smarter. But Kurt reminded us that at the heart we need people to inject humanity: surprise, for example, is something computers just can’t do.

So where’s the human in automated ads?

Computers are fast, Sam told us, but think about the instinctive human reaction to turn around and say simply something isn’t right: that’s how quickly humans function and computers aren’t there yet, so automating ads so readily is a way off.

Kurt agreed, and reminded our audience of the need for human creative direction to come into the creative process, regardless of how many AI generated ads may emerge.

Our panel closed with a few musings on whether comedy writing is immune from AI. Siri can’t do jokes but it will happen, they agreed.

Thanks to our panel for their time and their insights.

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