Generative AI is well on the way to becoming not just faster and cheaper, but better in some cases than what humans create by hand. Every industry that requires humans to create original work—from social media to gaming, advertising to architecture, coding to graphic design, product design to law, marketing to sales—is up for reinvention.
Creative AI or Creative automation is increasing at a rapid pace. Readers of VC Cafe know I’ve been following the developments in this space for the past couple of years, but it feels like we’ve stepped up the pace of ‘creative automation‘ over the past few months.
Users can now easily create:
- AI generated text (blog posts, ads, emails)
- AI generated code
- AI generated music
- Text to image
- Text to video
- Text to audio/ speech
- Text to 3D model
- Text to movement
And more. As the tools are being democratised (from OpenAI’s invite-only approach to Stable Diffusion’s open source disruption), new APIs are making it possible for developers to create novel products using these technologies.
The application landscape, while still in the early stages, seems to be rapidly growing.
The best Generative AI companies can generate a sustainable competitive advantage by executing relentlessly on the flywheel between user engagement/data and model performance.
Sonya Huang, Pat Grady, and GTP-3, Sequoia
To put the application layer of creative AI in context take a look at the Synthetic media landscape by Bessemer which was published in July 2022 and already feels like it needs an update.
How far can this tech go? Well, according to a recent overview of the generative AI space by Sequoia, AI is expected to fine tune scientific papers by 2025 and write full books by 2050.
If we allow ourselves to dream multiple decades out, then it’s easy to imagine a future where Generative AI is deeply embedded in how we work, create and play: memos that write themselves; 3D print anything you can imagine; go from text to Pixar film; Roblox-like gaming experiences that generate rich worlds as quickly as we can dream them up. While these experiences may seem like science fiction today, the rate of progress is incredibly high—we have gone from narrow language models to code auto-complete in several years—and if we continue along this rate of change and follow a “Large Model Moore’s Law,” then these far-fetched scenarios may just enter the realm of the possible.
The $10 trillion services industry
As marketplaces transformed the way we buy goods online, technology is about to do the same to service market. Let’s first define the term: A service marketplace is a website where private individuals, professionals, or companies can offer their services. Examples of online marketplaces for services are Fiverr, Upwork, and Thumbtack.
In the short term, these new creative AI technologies are starting with the low hanging fruit of the ‘creative class’. Whether it’s copywriting, design, stock photography, video editing, voice acting and others, AI can start offering a cheaper alternative to labor and service marketplaces.
As Andrew Chen, a partner at A16Z, described in his excellent post on the evolution of service marketplaces, AI and automation can be key in unlocking supply:
Other startups automate away the need for a licensed service provider altogether. These include MDAcne, which uses computer vision to diagnose and treat acne; and Ike Robotics and other autonomous trucking startups which remove the need for a licensed truck driver.
Andrew Chen, “What’s next for marketplace startups? Reinventing the $10 trillion service economy, that’s what.”
I see two types of developments in this space:
1. Existing service marketplaces: such as Fiverr, offering the option to ‘hire an AI’ to do the job.
Interestingly, Getty Images, the stock photo service, decided it will ban synthetic images citing copyright concerns as the reason. While the AI generated images are original and in many cases unique, the training data that was used to create the models is often scraped, without giving credit to the original owners.
2. AI first marketplaces: like HourOne’s virtual character powered text to video platform (Disclosure: we are shareholders of HourOne via Remagine Ventures and I sit on the company’s board). Take a look at this video I created in 2 minutes;
Another example is the use of AI to automate marketing/advertising, for example this product by GenusAI letting merchants automatically create video ads and catalogs and test rapidly which format will perform best using predictive analytics
AI hype cycle
It’s important to remember that AI, and other disruptive technologies, have a hype cycle, and we as humans tend to underestimate how long it takes for new tech to become good enough and enter the mainstream. For example, while we already have self-driving cars on the road, it will still take a decade or more for autonomous vehicles to reach the plateau of productivity.
“Pay particular attention to innovations expected to hit mainstream adoption in two to five years, including composite AI, decision intelligence and edge AI. Early adoption of these innovations can drive significant competitive advantage and business value and ease problems associated with the fragility of AI models.”
Afraz Jaffri, Director Analyst at Gartner
As Natalie Monobiot, Head of Strategy at HourOne said in a recent interview:
“It’s normal to feel anxious about it (the advancements in AI), and it will be a realistic concern for those whose actual work can be done more cheaply, quickly, and consistently via machines,” says Monbiot, who is head of strategy for the avatar video generation platform. These new technologies are new tools, like the pen, the typewriter, computers, and so on. As AI becomes more instrumental to creators’ work, there will be a higher premium on creativity (which is distinctly human) and less on execution.”
Natalie Monobiot, “Is AI making the creative class obsolete?“
In conclusion, humans (and the need for creativity) is not going away any time soon. But they are about to get very empowered. As the technology for creative AI gets cheaper, faster and more widely distributed, we’re going to see an explosion in creativity and new possibilities and business models, especially in the world of content creation, entertainment, education etc. This could also mean the next iteration for the creator economy.
Whether it’s the ability to immortalise the voice of Darth Vader played by James Earl Jones, or enabling Bruce Willis to continue to act using a virtual twin, we re at the beginning of an exciting period in creativity.
On that note, I’m excited to continue to invest in this space and power the next level of user generated content applications, games and content platforms. Please reach out if I can be helpful.