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Digital Transformation Tech Artificial Intelligence

Career training for the AI future has already begun inside these Reddit communities

By Neal Hubman, Vice-president of global client solutions

March 31, 2023 | 5 min read

Reddit in recent months has attracted an influx of passionate discourse about AI – from joyful engagement in creating AI art to questions about developing new generative AI programs, writes the platform’s vice-president of global client solutions Neal Hubman.

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While some worry about what jobs AI will take, communities on Reddit are busy exploring the opportunities AI will create. 77% of US Redditors familiar with generative AI say they are excited about its future.

According to Reddit data, the conversation around ‘synthetic media’ – media generated by AI – increased six-fold in the six months up to February 2023 with over 500,000 authors contributing to the conversation, according to data from Brandwatch. While text-based generative AI takes the lion’s share of the conversation, image-based communities prove to be some of the most active and engaged.

Running counter to the sentiment in broader communities that carry more negative discourse associated with concerns about AI, specialized communities on specific AI resources have become epicenters of constructive discussion. This includes communities dedicated to specific platforms, including ChatGPT, DALL-E, Midjourney, Stable Diffusion and others. As an indicator of the unique power of communities to push any medium forward, an AI-prompted creation by a member of Reddit’s r/Midjourney community depicting the Pope in streetwear-inspired regalia went viral across the internet in one of the first instances of AI imagery fooling public opinion.

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A lot of the most popular posts on Reddit generate attention through awe and fascination. For example, one Redditor connected their 3D printer to ChatGPT to write out their homework in their handwriting on pen and paper. In another post, a Redditor working with Stable Diffusion generated an artful video depicting humanity’s evolution. There’s a whole flair in r/AIArt called ‘Wonder.’

A ton of communities are using ChatGPT and other generative AI platforms to write new narratives, mix genres, merge references and generally extend their fandom in new and even more participatory ways. It’s a whole new way to create and engage with fan fiction, prompting subreddits like r/Frozen and r/LOTR to also launch their own AI generated flairs to distinguish original fan art from synthetic fan art.

Beyond AI for fun and fandom, purpose-driven communities like r/PromptCraft, r/PromptSharing and r/PromptDesign are bubbling up. All of these communities, which launched between March and August of 2022, aim to help people create better prompts for generative AI systems. They carry with them the idea of prompt engineering as an essential career skill for the AI-empowered future.

Overall, as with many transformative cultural trends, Reddit users are coming together not only to discuss the ramifications but also to envision the future. US Reddit users familiar with generative AI are 35% more likely to say they’re excited about its future than worried about its future.

What‘s more, 83% of Redditors would like to see more creatives experiment with the applications of generative AI, and 80% would like to see more brands do the same.

In the future, using AI as a tool will be seen as a skill no different from knowing Excel or Keynote. Reddit users are leaning into the full ecosystem of AI: from how to feed it the right data, to how to give it the right commands, to how to manage the outputs ethically.

While these community conversations on Reddit bring the future of AI into focus, we can begin to see that as another tool in the hands of humans, creativity remains the unique and driving force from the human that will produce the most awe-inspiring change with this new technology. As we like to say at Reddit: always remember the human.

Neal Hubman is vice-president of global client solutions at Reddit.

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