Answer to the government’s AI challenge? The creative industries

Answer to the government’s AI challenge? The creative industries

Our already world-leading creative industries could be the niche we need to become an AI superpower. This is how the government can help.

In March, the UK government’s spring budget allocated another £100m for AI, rightly signalling its commitment to advancing our AI industry.

However, this is just the latest episode in a series of scattergun announcements of support for AI innovation.

Yes, any support for our AI industry is welcome, but if we’re truly going to meet the government’s stated goal of making the UK an AI “superpower”, we need a refined and targeted strategy to get us there.

We need a niche we can own — and that niche should be the deployment of AI in the creative industries.

World-leading formula

We have an excellent tech ecosystem, with more tech unicorns than France, Germany and Sweden combined. And our tech sector recently became the third in the world to hit a valuation of $1tn, behind only the US and China.

But we’re still dwarfed by these two giants. We simply can’t compete in terms of investment.

If we carve out a niche for AI in the creative arts, we have an avenue to be a world leader in this space.

Our creative industries are already world-leading. We have a long-running reputation for producing world-class entertainment that’s consumed on a global scale, as well as access to excellent talent and growing investment into TV and film studios.

Combine this with our thriving tech ecosystem and we have a world-leading formula.

Unclaimed territory

This is an unclaimed territory that the US and Hollywood are too afraid to touch. Hollywood is grappling with a spate of deepfake scandals and last year’s writers’ and actors’ strikes have cemented an anti-AI agenda in the industry.

At the same time, Silicon Valley is busy dominating the large language model (LLM) space, with Microsoft and Google battling it out for market dominance.

This gives us a window of opportunity. If we move fast, we can be the first to grab this industry by the horns. And while this might be a niche now, the creative industries are crying out for innovation and this could be a multibillion-dollar industry within a few years.

If we jump on this now, we’ll have the unicorns, intellectual property, knowledge and talent to be the leading innovator in creative arts AI, setting the agenda in this space and reaping huge value from it for years to come.

Not only could it provide a strong boost to our tech sector, but it would give our entertainment and media sector a much-needed edge over that of the US.

Transforming content interaction

But what does this niche for AI in the creative arts look like in practice?

AI engines can be used to better understand consumer preferences, “advising” creators on how best to target their demographic.

It can be used to increase efficiency in the production and distribution of films, TV, music or just about any other kind of media.

But perhaps the most transformative use of AI in the creative arts will be the transformation of how people interact with their entertainment content. AI can be used to enhance human-made audiovisual content to create truly engaging and decision-enabled experiences for consumers.

A few hours of video content with a celebrity can be enhanced and sliced with the help of AI to create millions of unique interactive experiences for users. It would be an infinitely scalable means to deliver entertainment and educational experiences to consumers around the world. All without removing the authenticity and control that come with human-authored content.

The deployment of AI in the creative arts like this would be a tool in the pocket of any celebrity or entertainer looking to reach their fans in an engaging and unique way that’s more personal than social media. And it would unlock a new level of “access” to fans and entertainment consumers and delivering value to us too.

On the flip side, AI shouldn’t be used to machine-generate content in the creative industries. Machine-generated content is inauthentic and unreliable, and creative stars rightly avoid it like the plague due to its potential for producing undesired outputs.

Sam Altman and OpenAI have started courting Hollywood and we’re yet to see how this will pan out. But my bet is that Hollywood is going to be reluctant to take full advantage of the opportunities created by LLMs without Silicon Valley properly addressing the trust, authenticity and control issues that arise with machine-generated content.

A government vision

So, how do we actually carve out this niche and take the lead?

We need a vision and a strategy from the government.

First, we need tailored regulatory frameworks for AI’s use in the creative sectors. We need guardrails on the use of the technology, protecting human ingenuity and dispelling fears of talent replacement, while also ensuring it’s seen as a secure and innovative space for investors and entrepreneurs.

Second, we need ring-fenced funding packages for the development of AI for the sector too. It’s a new space, with few assurances and no track record for investors to bank on. Government financial support for the sector would de-risk investment and catalyse investment and innovation.

And, finally, we need an awareness campaign to encourage collaboration in the sector. The creative industries need to be made aware of the value that AI tools can bring to their business models and our tech sector needs buy-in from these industries if it’s to make any headway.

The government’s ambition to make the UK an AI superpower is to be applauded, but there needs to be a strategy to make it a reality — and that strategy should be focused on AI for the creative industries.

Tim Levy squareTim Levy is the founder and CEO of Twyn

Adwanted UK is the trusted delivery partner for three essential services which deliver accountability, standardisation, and audience data for the out-of-home industry. Playout is Outsmart’s new system to centralise and standardise playout reporting data across all outdoor media owners in the UK. SPACE is the industry’s comprehensive inventory database delivered through a collaboration between IPAO and Outsmart. The RouteAPI is a SaaS solution which delivers the ooh industry’s audience data quickly and simply into clients’ systems. Contact us for more information on SPACE, J-ET, Audiotrack or our data engines.

Media Jobs