Last updated on July 19th, 2023 at 11:23 am
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus has long captured the imaginations of people across the world because of the tragic lesson it tells about the consequences of unchecked ambition. As the story goes, Daedalus, a gifted inventor, crafts wings of feathers and wax in hopes of escaping Crete, where King Minos holds captive he and his son, Icarus. Keen to see how far the wings can take a man, Icarus ignores his father’s warnings, dons the wings, and flies higher and higher — too close to the sun. As the wings melt, Icarus falls to meet his fate in the sea. The tragedy of Icarus is a reminder that our ambitions can carry us to the point of ruin if we don’t take the precautions necessary to find the golden mean between extremes. Perhaps nowhere is this lesson more vital than in today’s spirited conversation around generative AI (GenAI) and the double-edged sword it presents to ambitious businesses. By using this powerful tool properly, those businesses stand to gain a great deal, yet, if used carelessly, they could potentially lose everything.
The current state of affairs
A recent study from Gartner found that in 2022, only 2% of outbound messages from large businesses were synthetically generated, yet the researcher’s report estimates this will grow to 30% by 2025. The study also predicts generative AI will be responsible for 10% of all data produced within two years, a tenfold increase from 1% in 2021. While the widening opportunities promised by generative AI are exciting, creating safety mechanisms and systems to support the oncoming wave should be front and center in the minds of every digital creator.
While the arrival of ChatGPT and similar large language model (LLM) tools introduces many exciting new content applications and associated benefits, it raises troubling questions about its limits. Since this is uncharted territory, no one can say precisely where the fault lines are in terms of originality, ownership, and authenticity, or, as in Icarus’ case, the point at which everything melts down — the place where ambition for gain teeters into an irrevocably damaging extreme.
What is generative AI, and how is it changing content?
Generative AI, or GenAI, is a mode of machine learning that uses neural networks to generate content. GenAI can create new“original” content or other data on demand by synthesizing massive volumes of existing data, including web texts, books, open-source, and other readily available material. It has many uses, including generating copy, imagery, videos, or just about any other content type you need. Because generative AI can be trained to produce better, more contextualized output, it’s especially effective in creating marketing campaign content and various associated processes in almost any industry.
Powerful, yes, but can one have too much of a good thing? We’re already starting to see a pile-up of content like never before due to the generative power of AI, and there’s no readily apparent infrastructure to support that abundance. This slippery slope presents potentially devastating situations for organizations struggling to track how their content is created, stored, accessed, and delivered. Most do not have the processes and technology to handle the volume of content before the onslaught of synthesized content, much less ensure they’re safeguarding themselves against potential governance and safety landmines.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the extremes when it comes to using GenAI — that is, recklessly soaring too high too fast with this powerful tool on the one hand or rejecting it outright out of fear on the other — both of which can lead to uncertain (if not fatal) business outcomes.
Content operations: the key to keeping content in its proper orbit
Content operations software helps teams manage rapidly multiplying digital assets at scale, and as we’ve already seen with GenAI, “rapidly multiplying” is an understatement today. Digital asset management (DAM), one aspect of content operations, is a process for storing and retrieving media. It creates a centralized system allowing businesses to store, share, organize, and find their digital assets. Knowing the nature, longevity, and location of digital assets is vital for making informed decisions that encourage business growth at a healthy pace.
DAM provides numerous benefits that can address the questions and concerns around the use of GenAI:
● Governance: Provides a single source-of-truth platform that connects geographical regions, internal business sectors, and software. Metadata and permissions help manage digital rights, prevent the use of expired material, and facilitate efficient workflows.
● Enhanced security: Ensures that assets are kept securely, with permissions-based accessibility.
● Better asset quality and improved decision-making: Ensures that assets are of high quality and uses data analytics and insights to make smarter decisions about the creation and distribution process of said assets.
Integrating generative AI with DAM software — keeping the wings clipped to make the flight stronger and longer
Combining generative AI with your chosen DAM platform offers the advantages of providing operational and ethical anchor points, ultimately strengthening the quality of any content created and protecting brand integrity. Other benefits of combining these technologies include:
● Brand safety and responsible use: DAM helps manage and assign complex metadata for all assets across a company, including those that are AI-generated, providing the oversight, limitations, and mitigations necessary to prevent the misuse of assets.
● Auditing, traceability, and transparency: DAM can also audit how content was created and the AI tools (if any) used in its creation. This allows tracking of the content lifecycle, giving insights into how AI-generated content is performing and where it might enhance other aspects of content creation within the organization.
With great power comes great responsibility
“Let me warn you, Icarus, to take the middle way, in case the moisture weighs down your wings, if you fly too low, or if you go too high, the sun scorches them. Travel between the extremes.”Ovid, VIII.183-235
It is as true in our time as in Ovid’s: principles, standards, and processes must accompany our exploration with innovation. Maintaining a balance with “everything in moderation” will help provide longevity and staying power for those who choose to leverage tools like generative AI while avoiding the carelessness that can lead to a fatal downfall.
Sam Chapman – Vice President, Content & Communications, Aprimo