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Creative AI Learning

Here’s what I learned about creativity watching my child play with Dall-E 2

By Ricardo Diaz, Chief Digital Officer and Partner

February 23, 2023 | 8 min read

Generative AI can both enhance and hinder creativity, writes Omelet chief digital officer Ricardo Diaz. It’s up to the adults to make sure our kids know how to use it responsibly.

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DALL·E 2 is an AI model that allows users to create images using text-based prompts. / Adobe Stock

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most significant technological advancements of our lifetime, and it’s already disrupting many aspects of the creative process. As a technologist and digital marketer, I love observing how technology influences culture and society. As a father, I also look at innovation through a cautious lens to understand both the short- and long-term implications that new technologies might have on my family and my child’s future.

The explosion of “generative AI” tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney and Dall-E 2 has me wondering: how will this technology affect my child’s ability to think creatively?

Up to this point, I have purposely limited my seven-year-old son's exposure to technology. He gets 30 minutes of iPad time during the week, where he plays educational video games and watches a little bit of YouTube Kids, but that’s it. I wanted to try a little experiment to see how my son would use Dall-E 2, a popular AI system that generates images using text-based prompts. He loves Hot Wheels, so I asked him to use the system to create his dream car.

Here’s what that creative process looked like, and how it evolved:

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Prompt #1: “Black Audi Sports Car”

I currently drive a black Audi sports car, so he was making what he sees every day.

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Prompt #2: “Black Audi superhero car with big tires on soccer pitch golden hour”

I encouraged him to get creative. He added “superhero” to the prompt and had me enlarge the car’s tires. He also wanted it to be on a soccer field (his favorite sport) and to show a sunset in the background.

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Prompt #3: “Black Audi superhero car with big tires and wings on soccer pitch golden hour”

We went through a few iterations of a black Audi sports car and eventually added wings so his car could fly.

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Prompt #4: “Blue Mustang car, yellow racing stripe, chrome rims with spikes, in soccer stadium”

After a few more iterations of the black sports car, I had him start over with an entirely new prompt. Inspired by his favorite Hot Wheels car, he made a blue Mustang.

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Prompt #5: “Photo-realistic green monster truck, black tires, ghost on the hood, jumping”

I wanted him to think beyond the toys he plays with and come up with something more original, so we started over and had him make a “weird” car. He landed on a green monster truck with a ghost on its hood.

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Prompt #6: “Photography, green monster truck, ghost painted on hood, black tires, wide shot, parked at the haunted mansion, raining”

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He really liked this first version but wanted to place the monster truck in front of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland (which we had just returned from the previous day). The car’s location became important to him. He also added some rain. This final creation was his favorite. He asked me when the green monster truck was going to be delivered to the house so he could play with his new toy.

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These are some of the lessons I took away from the experience of watching my son experiment with Dall-E 2:

  • Generative AI systems are no substitutes for imagination. The more creativity and curiosity you bring to these tools, the more they’ll be able to do for you.

  • Creative thinking is an essential skill that will need to be re-emphasized in schools. The memorization of facts or equations is less important than critical, imaginative thinking – especially for future generations who will grow up using AI-powered tools.

  • AI can influence what we make and think, so we must make it work for us. We must familiarize ourselves with generative AI tools (including their flaws) so we can apply them in ways that genuinely benefit our communities and our society as a whole. This starts with educating our children.

The effects of AI on future generations will have benefits and drawbacks. While this technology has the potential to enhance creativity by providing kids with new tools, resources and time, it can also limit their ability to think creatively by taking over tasks and limiting exposure to new ideas.

My son is never going to know a world without AI. It will impact how he learns, creates and plays. As such, it’s important for parents, educators and policymakers to carefully consider the potential impacts of AI on creativity in kids, and to take steps to ensure that kids are able to continue to develop their imagination and creative abilities in our increasingly automated world.

Ricardo Diaz is chief digital officer and partner at Omelet. For more on the latest happening in AI, web3 and other cutting-edge technologies, sign up for The Emerging Tech Briefing newsletter here.

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