Fevered discussion about AI is hard to escape at the moment, writes Sophie Seaton, Commercial Director, Underwaterpistol. Is it stealing our jobs? Is it reliable? Is it making plagiarism easier?

There’s a tangible amount of fear around AI services like ChatGPT – understandably so, as the capabilities of artificial intelligence have come on leaps and bounds since the days of Google Deep Dream, an image generation tool that turned everything into a hideous, caterpillar-like beast with far too many eyes for comfort.

Since launching in November 2022, ChatGPT has exploded into modern consciousness – it amassed 100 million users in its first two months, setting a record as the fastest-growing consumer application in history. The enormous uptake means interest in AI is at an all-time high, and I believe it’ll only become more inescapable as time goes on. This means that businesses need to accept and embrace this emerging tech, because it isn’t going anywhere.

Rather than being suspicious and frightened of AI, we need to embrace its possibilities and work in tandem with it, rather than against it. It will change the nature of our jobs in the ecommerce, creative and advertising industries, but that doesn’t mean us humans will be rendered redundant; we just need to harness the power of AI to make what we do even more effective.

Get time back

As an ecommerce agency, Underwaterpistol has seen some fascinating use cases emerging in this space. In terms of generative AI and ChatGPT, adoption is currently low, but I firmly believe that this will change within the next three, six, or twelve months.

From a content marketing perspective, there seems to be a misconception that employing AI stifles creativity, but I believe the opposite. When generative AI is used to make tasks like writing and composition more efficient, time can be redirected towards ideation, research, originality, distribution and editing, meaning we actually see a boost in creativity. AI can help free up time for writers to produce more meaningful content, such as by gathering sources, generating original ideas and carrying out thorough research.

Go in for the long haul

Any transformative technology necessitates a transformed strategy. Brands must view AI as a long-term investment, not something that can be adopted overnight. To ensure AI tools are benefiting your business and aligning with your goals, you need to define exactly what you want them to deliver.

Several factors determine whether investing time, budget and resources into emerging tech is worth it. Firstly, consider your brand and values – if you’re a small, grassroots company whose whole ethos is about the human touch, AI could be at odds with that.

Secondly, evaluate how it could help achieve your existing business strategy; it should accelerate it, not detract from it or veer you off course.

Thirdly, conduct a thorough financial assessment to determine the return on investment. Another important element that sits alongside all those considerations is whether the technology enhances the customer experience.

In-jean-ious AI

A notable example of genuinely effective use of AI comes from Levi’s, which I highly recommend as a beacon to observe in terms of embracing this technology. It’s partnered with Lalaland.ai, a digital fashion studio, and will offer a diverse range of models on its site, so customers can view products on different skin tones and body sizes.

Levi’s said the AI models would “supplement” human models rather than replace them, when the announcement was met with scepticism. It’s necessary here to point out that the ethical considerations around AI aren’t an afterthought – these need to be recognised up front to ensure brand perception and commitments to inclusivity and diversity aren’t damaged.

Lalaland argue that AI models can enhance conversion rates, as customers prefer to engage with models that resonate with them. Levi’s use of AI to achieve this is a fascinating way to commercialise the technology.

The drawbacks

Bias is an important concern. The effectiveness of AI tools is heavily reliant on the data they have been trained on, and unfortunately, they may inherit human bias. This might then be perpetuated by the humans using the tools. It’s also crucial not to rely on ChatGPT as an infallible source of truth – it can, and does, get things wrong, and human fact-checking isn’t going to become obsolete just yet.

We should be viewing AI as a means of gathering and testing information, and as a source of inspiration. Those businesses who rest on their laurels and ignore AI now will be the ones most at risk in the future, rather than those who adopt AI as a collaborator rather than an enemy.