The CEO of Getty Images, Craig Peters, has issued a strong warning to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to prioritise support for the UK's creative industries over an emphasis on Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Amid growing concern from the creative sector over AI companies' harvest of media materials for training data, Peters highlighted the substantial contribution of the creative industries to the UK’s GDP. He stated, "When I look at the UK, probably about 10 per cent of its GDP is sitting in the creative industries, whether that's movies, music, television. Making that trade-off is risky. Betting on AI, less than a quarter point of its GDP in the UK today and significantly less than the creative industries, is a bit of a perplexing trade-off."
The debate has its roots in a 2023 consultation from the Intellectual Property Office, following which the UK Government pursued strategies to negate barriers AI firms and users face in the use of copyrighted material. Consequently, AI firms received support in training their models, which inflamed tension amongst large creative organisations like Getty Images, an operating global image library.
Last week, Viscount Camrose, the Parliamentary Under Secretary State for AI and Intellectual Property, assured a Commons committee that the government would maintain a reasonable and pragmatic approach. Camrose argued the strategy would help "secure the UK's position as a world leader in AI, while supporting our thriving creative sectors."
John Kirk, Deputy CEO of Inspired Thinking Group, responded to this controversy, suggesting that the creative industries should adapt to the rise of AI or risk being left behind. He said, "The AI boom isn't slowing down anytime soon and, for the creative industries, that means we either embrace it or get left behind. Tools such as Generative AI can greatly ease the burden on creatives. AI offers a new approach to content delivery, working side-by-side with humans, to meet the ever-growing demand for content."
Kirk also envisioned the role of AI not as a threat, but as a potential ally for the creative industries, capable of streamlining processes, increasing efficiency, and fostering brand-compliant localisation on all content rapidly.
Sjuul van der Leeuw, CEO of Deployteq, part of Inspired Thinking Group, reinforced this positive outlook. He suggested that AI could substantially increase productivity, boost the economy and transform critical business functions such as sales and marketing. He emphasised, "It is not a case of creative industries versus Generative AI, they should work alongside each other to unlock the power of creatives."
The debate around the intersection of AI and the creative industries will gain more prominence this week with a series of sessions dedicated to its applications, training, and development at the World Economic Forum in Davos.