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Say 'HAI': AI in Caribbean Creativity

The myth of the starving artist might not be as far-fetched as we imagined, particularly in an era of Artificial Intelligence (AI). While AI will arguably enhance the operational capacity of some industries and sectors, this two-edged sword is also likely to put uncertainty in the minds of many, moreso those persons for whom applying their creative skill and knowledge equates with their bread and butter.

Last week, specifically on September 18, 2023, in Trinidad and Tobago, a symposium was held at Queen's Hall on the topic, "H-A.I. Mas: the potential impact of Artificial Intelligence on T&T Carnival". This timely endeavour brought together a cross-section of stakeholders in the orange industry, including Carnival band producers and designers, advertising agency personnel, attorneys-at-law who specialise in entertainment, sports and intellectual property respectively, and Carnival academics.

Does AI pose a direct threat to those who work in the creative industry? Quite frankly, there is no clear answer. There are some who definitely believe so, some who vehemently reject that notion, some who say it can a mixed-bag, i.e., similar to back in the 1980s, when persons who were versed in typewriting were gradually replaced by those persons who were computer-literate. Likewise, there are those who say that it is early days yet, as there are many grey areas [both subtle and stark] that we are yet to fully uncover and discuss about the use of AI.

Proponents and supporters of AI are keen to emphasise its ability to source and curate a host of required information about their task at hand, as well as clientele demographics in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. They are impressed with its ability to conceptualise, for example, what a costume design will look like on paper, as well as how it will, or ought to appear on a three-dimensional human body. Nevertheless, in the same breath, they note that AI is meant to be an assistant, and not a replacement for human skills.

By contrast, those who are opposed to the widespread, regular application of AI in our daily work lives, say that it can compromise the critical thinking skills of employees and workers. After all, if a machine is able to do the work of a human being, for a human being, but there is no corresponding loss of income for that human being, why bother to expend precious time, energy and initiative behind a particular project?

In terms of the continuous demands of work life, especially in the orange [creative] industry, where deadlines can be tight and budgets even tighter, the use of AI might help to alleviate that burden, by guiding the user toward plausible and pragmatic options, without compromising quality. Yet, AI cannot realistically impart human sentiment about the arts or any similar field.

There is no nexus of feeling that is stimulated when a machine designs something from nothing, quite unlike the human being, who will tend to share what inspired him or her to design, develop and dutifully commit to seeing the creation of a design, portrait, painting, sculpture, et cetera, from start to end.

Finally, it cannot be denied that we are still very much in the spring of our knowledge of the impact of AI on human lives, far less on human livelihoods in the Caribbean. Grey areas with legal implications for intellectual property and copyright, such as the use of AI in song production or song sampling have yet to be mentioned, far less incorporated into our present-day laws. And yet, we in the Caribbean cannot ignore the signs around us, if we are to continue to have relevance and resilience.

AI is part of the global wave of the future. We either sink or swim.


LinkedIn Local Caribbean, Artificial Intelligence [AI], creative industry, ability, development

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