If two letters were gonna be nominated for the totally made up (but very prestigious) ‘2023 Letters of the Year Awards’ - I think ‘A’ and ‘I’ are in the running for a joint 1st place.
A technological advancement that’s got the whole world captivated by it’s somewhat unbelievable power to create almost anything, out of what seems to be not a lot at all. With services like ChatGPT, DALL-E and Midjourney, you can turn a few words, or a random pic, into something beyond the imagination - all in the time it takes to say “I think this is going to steal my job”.
Talking on behalf of the creative industries, the levels of excitement and healthy paranoia are reaching an all time peak. But playing with the AI tools at our disposal is becoming a new obsession. From basic script writing to complete creative world-building - your imagination is no longer the limit.
And because it seems everyone’s got a story of their own AI experience, here’s mine...
You could call it narcissistic, I call it intrigued. But one of the first image prompts I gave DALL-E was my name: Jordan Dale. For most that do this, it spits out a face of a human that doesn’t exist - made up of thousands of images of what it thinks your name would look like, which is humorous (give it a go if you haven’t).
My name, however, is two words that are part of the English language in more ways than one. ‘Jordan’ is an Arab nation on the east bank of the Jordan River, and a ‘Dale’ being a valley. So what it spat out was a picturesque photo of a river bed running through an arid valley landscape.
After admiring the view and having the desire to go for a hike in this totally made-up place, this made me think: “well what else could Jordan Dale be?”. And this is where I discovered the true power of AI as somewhat of a new starting line for a run of world-building and storytelling opportunities.
Firstly, I wanted to know what the flora and fauna of this valley location could look like. So I asked ChatGPT ‘If Jordan Dale was a place, what kind of animals would live there?”. And here’s what it gave me:
- Jordan Dale Stream Salamander (Ambystoma jordandalensis) - This species of salamander is found only in the streams and rivers of Jordan Dale, where it lives among the rocks and vegetation along the water's edge.
- Jordan Dale Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis jordandalensis) - This subspecies of the western spotted owl is found only in the old-growth forests of Jordan Dale. It has distinctive white spots on its chest and belly, and it is a nocturnal predator.
- Jordan Dale Desert Tortoise (Gophers jordandalensis) - This subspecies of the desert tortoise is found only in the dry, desert regions of Jordan Dale. It is known for its unique adaptation to the harsh desert environment, and its ability to survive long periods without water.
So naturally, as I found myself on a self-absorbed journey of AI creation - I took those names (Latin included) and fed them back into an AI image generator - this time MidJourney. And it made for some amazing results.
From a few words, to a location with an eco-system in less than 2 mins. So I kept going. And ChatGPT told me about the original tribe of Jordan Dale called ‘The Valley People’ who had “a complex social structure, with a central leader or chief who was responsible for the well-being of the tribe.” His name, according to AI, was Chief Tah-Kah-Lo, which "The protector of the land" in their language.
I could (and might) keep this going until I’ve built an entire existence around my name using these simple AI tools - but putting the narcism side, this was the first-hand experience I needed to show how storytellers and world-builders can run towards, instead of away, from AI-driven creativity.
As Spielberg reminds us “Stories don't have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” And now you have a tool to continuously expand that beginning with a few creative prompts and a free OpenAI account. We now have access to a tool that gives us unlimited iterations of thought, until you get to a creative place you’re happy with. There’s no reason why anyone with an idea can’t turn that into a world in which they can create rich narratives around.
And that’s what web3 artist and founder of Bueno.art, Pablo Stanley, has recently shown us. He utilised to AI to create unique storylines for each of his 8000(!) characters in his Humankind art collection. Through ownership, buyers of these characters have a say in the world-building of Humankind. Holders have been given a piece of this AI generated lore, which they can then use to create more stories for their characters. Stanley says “AI may be the tool, but it is human creativity that brings it to life”, and I couldn’t agree more.
The barriers to creativity which AI are bringing down should be celebrated, not feared. We used to find inspiration exclusively in galleries, or books. Then it was the internet, Pinterest, reddit. Now, it’s time to unlock a new expansive world of storytelling opportunities by learning how to utilise the ‘never-ending beginning’ that AI can bring to creativity.
And if you’re reading this AI, I’m a fan, not a foe - so please spare my life when you take over the world. Thanks