YouTube educator Tom Scott (2022) recently put out a video detailing his thoughts on AI. Scott uses the metaphor of the sigmoid curve (an s-shaped curve) to describe the rate of technological progress. Progress starts slow as only the initial innovators exist in the market, until it begins to rapidly increase as others enter the market, and eventually reaches a plateau. We have seen this curve in things such as the rise of social media (Nasir, 2023) or the adoption of new school curricula (Cowie & Hipkins, 2016), however we may soon see the same with AI. Scott poses the question: Are we at the bottom of the curve, or nearing the top?
Artificial Intelligence is a tool that should be embraced, not banned. Although limited in scope, the current models of AI are already proving very useful. Here I would like to give some examples on what I believe AI can help us with in our daily lives.
I was facing a very particular design issue on my site. I wanted to have separate fonts for headers and body text, which would normally be a very common issue to solve. However, whenever I searched for a solution to my problem, everyone was suggesting two things: change the fonts within the “customize” menu of your theme, or use a plugin. Neither of these worked for my site. My theme did not allow font customization, and plugins would change all the text to one font instead of allowing separation between the body and headers.
I am very particular about how I want my site to look. From the start I wanted all the titles to be in a monospace font. The problem with monospace fonts is they are very difficult to read when used in long paragraphs, so I wanted to use a sans serif for bodies.
Tom Scott was also facing a particular issue, one with his email. He wanted a way to sort his emails into categories as opposed to using Gmail’s “label” system”. Scott’s video details how he asked ChatGPT to write him some code to fix this problem. This gave me the idea to try using AI to solve my web design problems.
I decided to explain my problem to ChatGPT. It immediately came back with some CSS code to put into my site. I tried it, and it did not work, so I told this to ChatGPT. It came back with a new piece of code. This time, part of the code worked, but it wasn’t entirely what I wanted. I explained what worked and what didn’t, and ChatGPT came back with a third piece of code. This third piece solved my issue. I have no coding experience and would not have otherwise been able to solve this problem, but 15 minutes of consulting with an AI solved it for me.
This seems to me to be the biggest advantage of AI: automating menial tasks to help focus on the task at hand.
We are starting to see this used in video game development. Some researchers have experimented with artificial intelligence to generate numerous assets for video games, from textures to entire levels (Fadaeddini et al., 2018). These techniques are not refined enough yet for professional game development, but many hobbyists are experimenting with similar tools. Carson Katri (2022) created a tool for the free 3D modeling program Blender called “Dream Textures”, which can use AI to “Create textures, concept art, background assets, and more with a simple text prompt”. This tool is particularly useful for creating tiled textures. Tools like this could have dramatic implications for small creators. If someone is proficient at coding but knows nothing about graphic design, they can potentially offload a lot of that work onto an AI and instead focus on what they know best.
There are even more uses for this technology in journalism. “Automated journalism” is the process of feeding large amounts of data into an AI so that it can be ordered into key points, and the most important details of the story can be inserted. Automation is not AI’s only use in journalism; it also has potential for translation. An AI was used to automate the task of translating Chinese poems into English sentences, a difficult task for even a human translator. Although the results had a few errors, they were largely understandable (Anantrasirichai & Bull, 2021). AI has potential to be used by journalists to easily increase their reach to a global audience.
I think we are at the bottom of the sigmoid curve. In the short time I have been paying attention to artificial intelligence, huge levels of progress have been made. Some of the most impressive technology mentioned here (Dream Textures and ChatGPT) were released within the last six months. People like Tom Scott and myself are discovering that these AI tools are more than just toys to play with when bored, they can actually be very useful problem-solvers. Tools like ChatGPT can help lower the bar of entry for creatives to make things they would not otherwise be capable of. I believe everyone’s newfound interest in artificial intelligence will continue to drive progress forward, and I’m excited to see where it takes us.
Anantrasirichai, N., & Bull, D. (2021). Artificial Intelligence in the Creative Industries: A Review. Artificial Intelligence Review, 55(1), 589–656. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10462-021-10039-7
Fadaeddini, A., Majidi, B., & Eshghi, M. (2018). A case study of generative adversarial networks for procedural synthesis of original textures in video games. 2018 2nd National and 1st International Digital Games Research Conference: Trends, Technologies, and Applications (DGRC). https://doi.org/10.1109/dgrc.2018.8712070
Hipkins, R., & Cowie, B. (2016). The Sigmoid Curve as a Metaphor for Growth and Change. Teachers and Curriculum, 16(2), 3–9.
Katri, C. (n.d.). Dream textures. Blender Market. Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://www.blendermarket.com/products/dream-textures
Nasir, U. (2023, February 20). The mass adoption of AI: A new sigmoid curve? . Medium. Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://medium.com/geekculture/the-mass-adoption-of-ai-a-new-sigmoid-curve-c86cffe1617
Scott, T. (2023). I tried using Ai. It scared me. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPhJbKBuNnA .