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Staying Human in an Age of Machines

Sitting and taking notes

Camilla Avelar, Game Design Lead for Hay Day, Supercell.

Whether in textiles, music technology, or games, creative industries all operate within the same world where machine-based innovation should be embraced as a helpful collaborator, enabling humans to trust other humans, stay inspired, and give credit where it’s due—instead of fearing machines taking over. We asked representatives from three creative fields for their views on the future.

Textile innovations: “We need collaboration, systemic understanding, and soft thinking”

Ali Harlin, Research Professor at Technical Research Centre of Finland VTT

"I am looking forward to a pragmatic year after a tumultuous one. It is important to keep the ball rolling, even in moments of crisis. New ideas are born out of innovation, such as novel combinations of new and circular raw materials in the textile world, and combining knowledge across industries. The forest industry, for example, is interested in textile innovations. It will be interesting to see how fast fashion will react to a changing market also being influenced by EU-wide circular economy directives. An interest in second-hand and rental initiatives has already been sparked among some big brands.

In terms of new innovations, like the bio-based fake leather we have been developing, AI is inevitably part of optimising new processes and material modelling. Other necessary features are proofs of authenticity like product passports—and systemic understanding. We must also believe in softness to balance the hardness. Raw materials account for only a fraction of value, and true innovations rely also on emotional capital—something to learn from Sweden, for instance. Sharing is key: extended product use protects land area, water, and carbon emissions. Viable product information becomes readily available among companies and also transparently to consumers.”

Music technology: “There is no such thing as artificial general intelligence”

Jonas Verwijnen, Founder, Kieku AI Tools

"There is a huge urge to understand artificial intelligence. It's also trendy right now—despite its presence since the 70s. I really want to take part in developing good and quick tools for people to use in practice. Musicians are artists, but I also see musicians as curators who can use AI to select and organise things in new ways to bring out their visions. The skill of an artist is not always in one certain instrument, but rather in an ability to create something interesting. As one example, this constant flow of combining things is what hip-hop culture is based on.

We try to make music into a language itself, so it works differently than AI prompts for text or images. I don't perceive AI as a threat to creativity; rather, it enlarges the potential of music. AI can bring ownership into the field and help people get inspired. There is a fear that AI will take over, but there is no ‘artificial general intelligence’. It means different things. We assist artists in making music affordably using AI generation, and in a way that revenue is shared with copyright holders of the content our machine learning uses as inspiration. I believe this win-win approach represents the future of music: leveraging AI inspiration for artistic expression, promoting human creativity, and ensuring fairness.”

Game design: “Games are a new media and should be accessible for all”

Camilla Avellar, Game Design Lead for Hay Day, Supercell

"This time of massive layoffs is interesting, and apocalyptic scenarios in the gaming field surely cross the mind. Many companies got too big and a bit cocky. It's worrying when companies start to swallow each other. It stifles creativity when everything is in the hands of a select few. Then you can't afford to take creative risks. Indie games can be amazing creatively, but they don't always get the recognition they deserve. In terms of AI, I hope we can use such a tool to support creativity instead of laziness. The next thing is to see what happens in terms of proper permissions in machine learning. The legal side needs to act as an enabler, not replace people with tech.

The social aspect plays a huge role in the next evolution of games. Not only diversity inside companies—which is important—but also a more diverse player base. We need people making games who didn't grow up gaming. Accessibility means, for instance, bringing games to differently abled people. Games are not niche; they're a new media in their own right, and they should be accessible for all. Thematic diversity can mean games about cooking, for instance. My vision is to see games being respected, in the same sense as literature or other fields. And just like with anything, we need different experiences in life, and there should be limits to spending time with just one thing. We don't go to museums or movie theatres four days in a row either. Not every game is art, but when we have more people making games, it can better reflect the human condition."

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