AI Can’t Replace Me

December 13, 2022
4 min read
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Playing with AI tools recently like ChatGPT and Midjourney made me realize the quality on average stuff will go up exponentially. Average copy, imagery, art, etc.

People with little-to-no expertise can use AI and create mediocre, good-enough stuff. Think about it: before the ability to design your own website with drag-and-drop, people relied on templates. Those templates, made by trained graphic designers, were good enough for your online shop or photography portfolio. This is why Squarespace became so popular. Building a custom beautiful site was insanely hard and expensive.

Of course, the conversation and loudest topic — “AI will replace writers, designers, artists, etc.” — is insanely dumb. These people clearly have not worked with talented designers or writers. They imagine the average person using AI art, AI design, and AI writing to build a startup or spin up a side project.

Multiply this reality by millions of people doing this, similar to when Instagram democratized photography and changed the professional industry, not intentionally, but as a byproduct, because the tools changed the culture.

What happens is a flooded marketplace with glossy Deviant art style imagery, writing that lacks a point of view, and design that looks the same as everything else. But to the person who has no skills of a writer or designer, it will be fantastic for them. It will feel like magic. Yes, have fun generating your dinner party invites.

The issue is a matter of taste and craft.

Most people will not know what ‘good’ looks like or how to evolve what’s good. Even the prompts need a level of taste and expertise to get something useful out of it. You have to know what you’re searching for and how to ask for it. This requires knowledge of the domain and its history.

I am not worried at all that AI will replace me. I believe AI will expedite my job and its many processes like research, cross-pollinating different ideas from domains, or cranking out shitty first drafts. But to sell good writing, to get executives or entire teams to believe in a vision, to invest in brand building, to stir emotions in people and enroll them into a point of view — AI can’t do that. Hell, most people with a marketing title can’t do what I do.

Weirdly, I think writers, brand designers, photographers, etc. with high craft and a portfolio with a POV can charge even more for their work in the future. Because AI will flood the market with garbage, those that want craftsmanship and style will hire humans. Those that appreciate the collaboration process and believe in the nature of conversations and imagining together will employ people.

The ‘human touch’ will be cherished, sought after, and prized. It will stand out even more in the marketplace as more AI-generated trash enters our feeds. 

I talk harshly about AI — calling it trash and whatnot — but I am not against it. 

I am against people that do not respect expertise, mastery, craft, and imagination. I am against this "everything is coming to an end" attitude and "AI is coming for our jobs". I am against industry charlatans and fugazis. I am against people who have fancy job titles at companies but are insanely incompetent, can’t make anything, don’t have a portfolio, and seemingly bullshitted their way to the top. I am against people who think, just because a new tool can generate something at the speed of thought, that suddenly trained professionals with decades of experience and proof of work are going to be replaced. 

If you’ve been at your craft as long as I have, and you believe a new hot AI tool is making you irrelevant, then what a sad career you’ve led.

If you believe that the reason people hired you or partnered with you was only because of your output — because you can type words or draw a picture or make rectangles on a screen — then what of your character, your ideas, your perspective, your worldview, your presence in the room?

I say let the non-makers and non-builders and paper-pushers and you fucking podcasters believe that creativity and craft will be replaced with a prompt. Let them rely purely on AI tools to build a creative campaign, or a beautiful user experience, or a product that actually works. I want to see them fail, thrash, and crawl back to the artists that they discarded the moment something shiny arrived in the marketplace. You writers and designers better triple your rates. Fuck’em.

What matters is character and portfolio. Character is who you are. Portfolio is what you’ve shipped.

AI will make me only more dangerous. I already do the work of three full-time people. I will be able to do the work of six, maybe more.

If your portfolio speaks for itself — it has a point of view, style, craft, and coherency — then you’ll never be out of a job. If you are known for being trustworthy, thoughtful, a fun collaborator, and an expert in your domain who has made things that people loved, you'll never be out of a job.

I am excited about how AI can expand our world and our craft. I am even more excited for the artists that make things distinctly human — and get rewarded for it.


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