Bailey Calfee
May 29, 2024

Creative Theory Agency draws focus to vital need for inclusive AI

What Prompted You? campaign shows the importance of equitable access to AI tools as the tech gains mainstream adaptation.

Creative Theory Agency draws focus to vital need for inclusive AI

As generative AI tools proliferate, experts have warned of their potentially detrimental effects on representation and inclusion. As these tools learn from human inputs, they are bound to include harmful biases.

“This is one of those pivotal, new frontier moments where we are either designing for everyone, building for everyone, including everyone in having access to these tools — or a wide swath of the population will be left behind,” said Tamon George, cofounder of Creative Theory Agency.

To better illustrate the need for inclusive access to generative AI, Creative Theory Agency launched an out of home campaign in its native Washington, D.C. The work is titled What Prompted You? and features diverse creators and the prompts they used to create AI-generated images that represent their identity and lived experience.

All of the creators in the campaign are focused on increasing access for Black and brown people in fields that they have been systematically excluded from. Talent includes Dionna Dorsey, CEO of non-profit Creative Ladder, which elevates diverse creatives in the ad industry; Keem Hughley, restaurateur and founder of Afrofuturist restaurant Bronze; Angel Gregorio, founder of Black + Forth, a marketplace for Black-owned businesses; and Carl Maynard, photographer and founder of Walk With Locals, a community of aspiring and established photographers.

To generate the images used in the campaign, Creative Theory Agency conducted interviews with each creator, then used snippets from their conversations to inform the prompts they input. The team used Midjourney to generate the images, sometimes going through dozens of tweaks and variations before reaching the final creative.

According to George, many people view using generative AI tools as a simple, two-step process: input a prompt and the AI will generate an output. What’s missing from this equation is how the lived experience of the users inputting these prompts informs how they phrase them. 

When those people prompting AI are not diverse, the output could leave out marginalised groups. And if there aren’t diverse people creating the tools themselves, they could systematically reinforce this exclusion.

For example, technological advancements in color photography historically left out people with darker skin tones, which seeped into the color-balancing baked into digital photography. This bias still affects the quality of photos of Black and brown people to this day — and was the impetus for Google Pixel’s Real Tone campaign, which Creative Theory Agency created.

“To counter that bias, we need access to these tools and systems,” said Gary Williams Jr., Creative Theory Agency’s other cofounder.

What Prompted You? serves to “make sure that communities of colour see themselves as active participants in this new frontier,” added George.

“There's a short window of time to have people take a deeper examination [of the tools], but also for people to get involved,” he noted. “These tools are learning from the inputs they are getting right now, and if we are not collectively inputting those more ‘challenging’ scenarios to language learning models or generative AI tools, they'll never get better.”

George said the wider goal of What Prompted You? is to get the ad industry and large brands to “take a more in-depth look at who is developing [AI tools], who is on their boards, who is creating [with them] and who we're creating for.” 

“Advertising and marketing has a say in so much of the cultural zeitgeist and how people see and feel about themselves,” he added. “Advertisers and marketers hold a very big piece of the pie of what the future of AI will be — whether we like it or not.”

 
Source:
Campaign US

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