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Writing and Illustrating with an AI

Click2View’s CEO Simon Kearney takes a trip down the AI content rabbit hole.

November 2, 2022

Written by Simon Kearney | Edited by Tim Colman | Graphics by Yusak Prahadi

Given where we’re at with AI writing and illustration tools, I think it likely that if the machines take over, it won’t be like the Terminator movies with guns and coercion. The machines will win us over with content marketing and social media. They’ll lull us with carefully crafted stories and delightful images that are so targeted we’ll be doing as we’re told without realising it. The machines will be marketers, not murderers. 

I’ve been playing with some of these tools quite a bit over the last few weeks. We’ve been using Singapore-based Y-Combinator-backed Hypotenuse for the last year. It is generating copy and illustrations for us using AI. Here’s what I’ve learnt. 

Writing with an AI

The writing first. The most amazing thing about the AI is that the copy is good. It’s readable, which is more than I can say for the first drafts of a lot of ‘writers’ out there. It is quite readable but generally lacks substance. One of my first experiments was asking the AI to write about trout fishing in Singapore. And it wrote a great piece about something that doesn’t exist. It was like a restaurant review that didn’t mention the food. 

The AI is like that mate who has a way with words. The silver-tongued devil who captures your attention, but after a while you realise it’s just words. There’s nothing behind them.

That said, the oft-quoted headline about AI writing tools that they cure writer’s block is very accurate. The AI gives you a leaping off point every time. So that’s where I’m at with using AI to write. It’s not going to give me finished pieces, it’s going to give me paragraphs where I need them. An extra sentence with a random, interesting detail. It’s good at helping to set up a structure for what you’re writing. It’s good at keeping your copy moving along in a spirited fashion. 

I’m trying to use the tool to write a guide book as an experiment to see how good it is. And the draft copy at the moment is about 75% the AI. What I have noticed is that the AI isn’t great on facts. Some of the content it pushes out as fact, is in fact, completely false. I wonder if it is scraping fake news factoids and regurgitating them as fact. Facts take a back seat to style — hard to blame the AI for that. Some of the best content writers out there can make a similar mistake. 

So fact checking will be essential with any AI copy. The AI writing tool may well save the profession of sub-editing from its near death lately. 

Commissioning content in our game has always been the underlying problem we’re trying to help solve. Very few clients have good experience and skills commissioning writers, so we have to try and help them through this process. The same will be true of AI. The person writing the description of what they want the AI to produce will become increasingly adept. I’m thinking of hiring someone to do just this at the moment. 

Illustrating with an AI

On the illustration side, the process is much more fun. It reminds me of the early days of the internet when it was actually interesting and every search turned up things that made you go hmmm! 

My Swiss friend in IT was in Singapore this week so I made this for him. You can see the description at the top of the screen shot, and there are a few other parameters happening in the background.

My Greek friend wanted to imagine his next car on his native coastline by the Aegean Sea. 

One thing that is annoying on the AI illustration side of things is that it seems quite US-focused. In this next one, I was looking for a humorous image for my cricket team, The Otters. But each time I asked for a cricket bat, mostly I got a baseball bat. I’m sure with sheer numbers of requests, Indian users will fix this quickly.

It’s been fun. Robot imagery is definitely a winner. 

We’ve put one AI-generated image in front of a client but they selected an alternative created by our designer. But our designers, like with the writing side, recognise the benefits of being able to generate images so quickly.

“These tools definitely help when you have a quick turnaround on a project. These can also be used as a source of inspiration, especially when experiencing a creativity block. However, please remember that these AI machines are tools to assist you in working more efficiently and generating new ideas; they cannot be the ultimate ‘designer’ of every artwork or illustration,” says Rainhard, our Art Director. 

Essentially, AI acts as an added value. The designer, i.e. human, is still the one responsible for the final output. You can rely on these machines to a certain extent, but not to a point where they do all the work… yet.

Read more from Click2View:

  1. Podcast: The Upward Trajectory
  2. Virtual Sets: Any Place You Want, Any Time You Want
  3. Too fast too friendly: exactly how does ultra-short form content work?
  4. AI Content Creation: The October 2022 Update

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.