Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the latest tech trend, following crypto and NFTs in recent years. The promise of generative AI in the business world is that tasks previously needed to be done by trained professionals can now be done with a prompt and a click of a button. Need a new logo for your startup or images to use on your website? Just log onto Midjourney, type in a few words, and seconds later… a new image appears on screen!
Some of the AI-generated imagery is fun. There have been AI images of U.S. Presidents with mullets, AI images of Star Wars characters posed as if they’re in a Wes Anderson movie. It’s tempting to see those images and think about using generative AI to develop
images for marketing materials. Likewise, if you need copy for your website, blogs, or newsletter articles, you may be tempted to use ChatGPT, which can generate text for you in a matter of seconds.
There is a caveat though. Generative AI is trained on the words and images of existing works. AI in its current form is plagiarism.
It’s already a big topic in academia. As Slate reports, AI makes it easier than ever for students to cheat. Students feed AI a few sentences about a topic, and the AI “writes” a paper for them. Students may change a few words here or there, but they’re essentially not only letting the computer do the work for them, but they’re also using plagiarized material without consent of any of the original authors. The same is true when using AI to create a logo or image for a website.
If it is considered cheating and plagiarism when students use AI, it is of course also plagiarism to use it for business purposes.
Some marketers may use AI simply to generate ideas; the digital equivalent of looking through magazines or books to spark ideas for a project. Forbes suggests using AI only to come up with ideas and outlines, then to have professionals do the actual work they’ve always done.
Forbes also insists that the use of AI in business and marketing is inevitable, and it’s best for professionals to learn as much as they can about the topic. In the same article, they also mention the many ethical complications of using AI in any current iteration.
Artists and writers are already filing lawsuits against AI companies for using their work without permission. It’s unlikely small businesses will be sued for using AI-generated marketing materials, but it’s not out of the question. At this stage, it’s wise to let your ethics guide you and proceed with caution.