On Creative AI: A Looming Threat?

written and posted Nov 13 by Mallory Mariano


“Before they take over the world, many experts say they will take over your job!” It’s a common through line associated with the anxieties of the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), as it relates to the disruption of certain labour markets and whole industries. That AI in tandem with technologically sophisticated machinery (or programs) is set to supersede, to take over, factory jobs, entry-level data entry positions, jobs in the retail and service industries, and many more. Many of these discussions fail to address the implications of the rise of AI with regards to creative industries, and the nature of precarious labour. How will AI influence the trajectory of culture in the coming decades? And what of the moral and ethical quandaries surrounding AI and creativity – specifically as it relates to areas of copyright and profit margins? I aim to address these areas of contention and how implications posed by the rise of AI not only threaten various creative industries such as that of publishing, music, visual arts, film, and the like, but wholly undermine the foundation of culture and creative expression on a broader scale. I start with a discussion on the idea of ‘creative industries’, proceeded by an brief investigation into copyright and ownership as it relates to Creative AI use, followed by a proposed alternative ethical framework as it pertains to using AI in creative endeavours.

Creative Industries

Creative industries are what former UK Premier Tony Blair denoted as “industries which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent…which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property” (Blair for Lee, 2022, p. 602). However, discourse surrounding what is deemed the creative industries is in fact, dehumanizing to matters of creativity, given that these discussions typically see this kind of work as solely a type of capital, according to Lee (p. 602). The implementation of AI is a notion that is seemingly transformative; disruptive. For instance, AI can be designed to “have rules to change rules themselves to possibly generate a transformative effect,” (p. 605) seen with programs such as MidJourney, OpenAI’s ChatGPT, DALL-E, and more. However, this perspective fails to incorporate the moral and ethical quandaries surrounding generative AI, perversions that include “the emergence of deepfakes, the bias of datasets, and the potential for copyright and other authorship issues” (Flick & Worrall, 2022, p. 71). If our understanding of Creative Industries is, in fact, already dehumanizing in and of itself, how may incorporating AI into these discussions further complicate matters? Will AI inevitably replace the art/artist delineation?

Creative AI and Copyright

Content creation can be a lucrative endeavour, especially when situated around discourses of new media and digital consumption habits. The modern-day influencer is perhaps the most obvious example. One need look no further than TikTok, X/Twitter, Instagram, and even online blogging/media and entertainment news outlets for even more evidence. Opportunities for monetization are seemingly bountiful. However, within the sphere of digital and print publishing, the rise of creative AI may pose a risk on considerations of ownership and authorship. Indeed, “creative AI [typically uses] databases of existing material to be trained on, [meaning that] both the use of that material and potentially the output of the AI could become,” (Flick & Worral, 2022, p, 72) muddled and further complicated from the perspective of ownership, authorship, and the like; of the source material found in a single song, a body of literature, a pre-existing painting or visual format, the soulful and passionate performer of an actor captured on film, the rousing speech gave by a politician to a boisterous crowd. There is also the notion of who owns the art, if AI progresses and advances in sophistication to a point where it may be able to assert ownership (p. 72). A future where, for instance, digital blogging or podcasting is overtaken by sophisticated AI programs, seems both innovative and potentially cost-effective in terms of generating revenue, especially from the perspective of a content creator looking to monetize their platform. However, it is clear that in this potential future of AI generated content creation, it is imperative that copyright laws keep up with the fast-emerging trends with AI in order, to curb, discourage, and penalize plagiarism. Indeed, “technological development has always shaped and driven the development of copyright law. When copyright law interacts with technological change, it is actually not the technology itself that is of interest; rather, the focus is in the challenges that the changing technology creates to the copyright system” (Härkönen, 2020, p. 167).

Ethical Use of Creative AI

The idea of the ethical use of Creative AI is going to be tantamount to the rapidly evolving and overlapping worlds of creative industries and generative AI development. As I have ascertained in the previous sections, the proliferation and accessibility of AI has paved the way for moral and ethical perversions in the form of deepfakes, bias in datasets used by these programs, and plagiarism in the form of uncredited outputs (ie. AI generated text, song, visuals, and the like). A consolation, or alternative route in dealing with many of these issues, is what Flick and Worral deem Virtuous Creative AI; a framework of six technomoral values regarding the use of generative AI as possibilities for combatting many of the ethical issues surrounding this discourse: employing honesty, humility, empathy, care, civility, and flexibility (Flick & Worral, 2020). Indeed, The framework described by Flick & Worral encapsulate many of the considerations users of generative AI should at the very least ponder, when implementing these programs to achieve outputs that potentially may be exploitative (and plagiarist) in nature. For instance, it is quite plausible that a system of regulation, of measured and deliberate prior consideration à la the Virtuous Creative AI should be enacted by users prior to employing Creative AI programs, rather than after-the-fact once a product has been rendered. Such practices would, at the very least, seek to contain and or prevent much of the disarray and ethical violations brought on by generative AI practices.

In Summation

Conclusively, considerations of the role of AI in culture, creativity, and ownership will only be pushed to the forefront even more so with the dissemination and widened accessibility of such programs to the masses. In this article, I discussed and outlined this idea of creative industries, followed by a foray into the complex interrelationship between copyright and Creative AI, and back ended with a discussion on cultivating a more thoughtful and considerate approach to using AI, ethically. The notion of AI replacing the role of the artist, as it pertains to creative work, and the implications presented in the realm of content creation and digital consumption, further muddy these discourses. From the perspective of monetization and growth, AI is seemingly a tool that may aid in such efforts for growth, and ultimately, increased profit margins. But in terms of the innate morality at the center of Creative AI, as I have hopefully proven, no such systems are currently in place to regulate infringements on authorship, ownership, and plagiarism. While this topic is an emerging area of scholarship, which very much reflects the technosocial landscape in which AI is just now emerging, much work can and should be done specifically in filling in gaps as it relates to Creative AI and its potentially corrosive impact on the publishing industry, authorship, and generating IP. This article is but a singular perspective in adding to the existing and growing literature pool within this area of research.


Flick, C., & Worrall, K. (2022). The Ethics of Creative Ai. The Language of Creative AI, 73–91. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-10960-7_5

Härkönen, H. (2020). Fashion piracy and artificial intelligence—does the new creative environment come with new copyright issues? Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 15(3), 163–172. https://doi.org/10.1093/jiplp/jpaa021

Lee, H.-K. (2022). Rethinking creativity: Creative industries, ai and everyday creativity. Media, Culture & Society, 44(3), 601–612. https://doi.org/10.1177/01634437221077009

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