Ammaar’s AI children’s book made people angry. Why?
AI art is still young, and we will have to discuss a lot about it
Hey Ammaar, we discovered some of your side projects on Twitter a couple of weeks ago and we wanted to reach out to learn a bit more about them. We think it’s gonna be interesting for our audience as you’ve been in the spotlight about an ai-made child book that crystallized some of the “pain points” of the adoption of Generative AI if we can put it this way. Can you tell us who you are and how you ended up doing Generative Ai?
Ammaar: Sure! I’m a Product Design Manager at a fintech startup based in the Bay Area. I’ve always loved experimenting with new technology (a trait of mine you can trace back to when I was five years old!).
So, naturally as Generative AI was picking up steam, it piqued my curiosity. What specifically got me very excited about all of this was how I felt like it was giving people superpowers. If you were struggling to write, it could help you with that. If you wanted to dream up ideas to illustrate, it could make that happen.
It’s unlocked a level of expression for people where their imagination not their skills is the limiting factor, and that to me, is an incredibly exciting scenario: where more people than ever before will be able to share their ideas with the world. And that excitement is what led me down the rabbit hole of Generative AI
We saw the rage that was happening on Amazon when you released the ai-made child book! That was wild, I think now the reviews and comments are a bit more balanced but at the beginning, it was full of hate messages from authors who probably felt threatened by AI and you were just the messenger of a bigger wave coming. Can you paint us the full picture of this story, why do you think people reacted like that, what conversations happened after and what is your take on this afterward?
You could say that again! The reaction was quite surprising and illuminating. Off the bat, I’ll say that the people who were posting vicious and hateful messages (including death threats) are unfortunately impossible to reason with and when they’re already behaving that way, there isn’t much of a discussion to be had. This was unfortunate—we’re all better off hearing each other’s perspectives and learning from one another, I see very exciting and optimistic potential with this technology, so I would have loved to hear the counter-factual, yet it felt like a hyper polarized political debate where one side can’t get through to another.
Those who did share their concerns and were willing to talk, I just am so grateful for. I heard their fears around how the technology was threatening to them, and I think why I got such a visceral reaction was because AI up until this point still felt somewhat abstract to people, and then all of a sudden comes this product that blends in with every day life but was created in an entirely different way, and that really struck a chord.
I hear the concerns, especially those around how the images were potentially trained in these models, but the anger was misdirected. I am a user of these tools like the thousands of people who can sign up to use any of them today—but where the conversation should potentially focus in my opinion, is more of an open dialog between the creators of these tools and the people potentially affected by them. And of course in reasonable, decent way, unlike the way a lot of folks have reacted on Twitter.
My take is still that I think this technology is an equalizer and I am excited to see a new set of creators emerge. And it is inevitably going to stick around. You’re unfortunately kidding yourself if you think that’s not the case, and instead where we should be looking ahead to now is: how do you embrace this, how do you view this as supplemental not a replacement, how do you build these tools in a responsible way with the people potentially affected. If we approach this ethically, the better off everyone is.
We just saw your short movie about Batman and we really love it! that’s great results in just a couple of hours. Can you tell us a bit about it and especially about what it means for people in the near future? It seems that it allowed you to create a fan-made project around some of your passions that maybe you would not have been able to achieve without GenAI tools.
Thank you! It was a really fun project to make, as a Batman fan, to tell even the shortest version of a story out of my own imagination was a really fun project. And that’s the magic here again: whether it’s a vivid dream you’ve had, a character you love, or a story of your own—GenAI can help bring those to life. And I say help bring those to life, because it’s not about pressing a button and getting a book or a video. What people need to realize here is it starts with your imagination! How you imagine each scene, how you want your characters to appear, the twists you want to bring to the story, and then GenAI enables you to visualize all of that in a much faster way, and of course empowers you to create something you may not have been able to do all by yourself. And so for people in the future, this means you’re going to see a lot more fan made content, more stories told that people were holding on to that they didn’t know how they were going to express, and I’m sure young Spielberg’s who have their own story to share that we’ll now get to see.
One question related to your work, let’s say about product design in general. How do you see GenAI fitting into the current workflows between the Design, Product, and Marketing teams? did you witness some great use cases, did you see adoption? or is it still some kind of ” fun tech not yet good enough for companies “?
This is a great question, and something I think about all of the time. We’re already seeing practical use-cases emerge! I’ve definitely seen people already use GenAI to refine copy, improve documents, and as a Product Designer, I’m really excited about products that will automate the tedious work away. I’ve already seen examples of apps that seem to generate common UI patterns you see in most apps that you essentially just need to theme over, because frankly how unique and differentiated does your Settings page of the app need to be? Or a table view? And so to see some of these common tedious tasks automated so that creatives can focus on the details that matter, refine them, create the parts that are differentiated, this seems like it will become an essential part of the tool belt.
What do you think is the next big thing that gonna happen in the next couple of weeks/months, ai-tech related?
We’re getting glimpses into this already but text-to-video, text-to-music, and text-to-3D are the ones to watch in my opinion. With the first one, we’re going to get a lot closer to people being able to put out full featured video ideas that they can use in their films, and that is of course a potential threat to stock footage sites etc. Music is one of those other creative fields that we’ve already seen a lot of progress in with Google’s model, it’s inevitable that we’ll eventually see the first AI-generated song on a Spotify chart (though no idea if it will sound any good, ha!), and then text-to-3D is particularly exciting to me because you’ll probably see more video game creators emerge and of course, VR experiences where we’re going to have the most immersive form of story telling come to life with AI powered tools.
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With your experience using the tools, you probably discovered a couple of tips and tricks. Which ones would you be ok to share with our audience?
It’s very easy to get caught up in trying to find an AI tool for everything, but in both of my projects, I am trying to show that it’s AI + your imagination + tools that exist, so for folks out there trying to create, look into tools that already work today that aren’t necessarily AI powered, but easy to learn, and think about how you could leverage AI to take them to the next level. And the most helpful thing for me is just spending time with the AI community on Twitter that’s incredibly supportive and inspiring. It always keeps ideas flowing. And in all of the tweets that I put out about my projects, I try to share as much about the process as well in hopes that it shows people that’s it’s very approachable and inspires them too.
What is the next thing you are going to try using Ai tools?
Creating a VR storytelling experience combining AI art + ChatGPT and likely some other tools is next on my list!