The Art of AI and Storytelling

How CPS’s Digital Media department is leading human-powered creativity using artificial intelligence.

The power of story is an essential part of human existence. As relational beings, we have been connecting through story since the cave drawings of our Neanderthal forebearers 64,000 years ago.

And while we have come a long way since over the millennia, our need to express our identity, our thinking, our lived experience is unwavering. Yet each time a new tool in sharing our story emerges, it is fraught with fear.

Change has always been a part of the human story. And it has always been scary.

Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the alarms once more are sounding.

But according to Cynthia Baron, the Academic Director of the Digital Media graduate programs in the College of Professional Studies, fear of AI is as absurd as the fear of photography.

“As we embrace new technologies like AI in the field of digital media, there is a fear of losing certain skills or jobs. But I believe AI can enhance creativity and idea generation rather than replace human intelligence. By using AI tools creatively and thoughtfully, individuals can set themselves apart in a competitive digital media landscape.”

Cynthia Baron

Because Baron sees so much value in AI, she has integrated it into the curriculum of the Digital Media master’s program, requiring students to create interactive pieces using AI as part of their final project in an advanced storytelling class. Providing students with a list of AI tools, she encourages them to not only create visual elements using AI but also document their process.

AI, like any tool, has its limitations and can make mistakes. However, it can also be a valuable resource for students, particularly those whose first language is not English. AI can help them with language barriers and refine their writing and thinking processes.

One of the more powerful aspects of AI in this regard is to refine the ability to ask good questions. According to Baron, the specific prompts that are inputted into any AI generator will dramatically shift the outcome. In one of her earlier experiments working with students and AI, Baron introduced them to online image creation tools and emphasized the importance of using them creatively beyond just stock images.

While AI may have some drawbacks, such as biases and mistakes, its potential to assist in idea generation and execution is valuable. The key is to ask the right questions, have a deep knowledge of art styles, and be able to iterate quickly.

AI isn’t going anywhere. And as technology continues to evolve, individuals must adapt and continue to learn in order to stay competitive in the digital media industry.

In the face of technological advancements, we must not fear the future. We must embrace it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. AI may change the way we work in digital media, but as Baron notes, it has the potential to help more people generate unique ideas. It is up to us to use AI as a tool to enhance our skills and stand out in a constantly evolving industry.