Staff at Adobe Worry About the Future of AI and Their Customers

Adobe firefly beta adobe firefly beta adobe firefly beta ad.

As AI’s original foothold in photography grows into a full invasion, even staff at Adobe are worrying about their customers’ future prospects.

At least some employees at Adobe have been voicing worries about how the company’s AI tools, and especially its text-to-image generator Firefly might kill some photographer and visual designer jobs.

Given Adobe’s enormous customer base among both amateur and pro visual creators across a wide spectrum of niches, employees at Adobe have worried that artificial intelligence technologies in the art space will cause downsizing.

One particular worry is that commercial art departments and graphic design firms will cut jobs over time, and one senior designer at Adobe itself has described how this is already happening.

According to a report by Insider, the Adobe employee in question mentions a billboard and ad business that has already reduced the size of its human creative team specifically because of how Adobe Firefly is with Photoshop.

This is just an anecdote from one user case, but Firefly has barely been opened up for wide use, so we could possibly see many more cases of the same.

One internal Slack channel seen by Insider has even included apparent cases of Adobe employees going through a “depressing” situation of “existential crisis” because of what they’re seeing in the industry.

On the other hand, reactions have also been positive. One employee claimed that offering art tools for faster workflows (while being ethical about it) has its good side for helping professionals do more.

However, the argument among employees also goes that software for design professionals isn’t much use if its buyers lose their jobs and motivation for buying it.

Adobe itself is hardly in danger of going under, AI or not. The company has been consistently profitable from quarter to quarter and year to year for quite a long time.

With that said, its move into AI –a natural choice for a software company- could also be a measure for offsetting future subscription losses.

If more pro users of Adobe’s main product, its Creative Cloud platform, cancel their subscriptions, the loss in profits will need to be offset.

AI itself is just in the very earliest stages of its current revolutionary improvements in both image and text rendering applications.

Even if the technology doesn’t improve significantly from here onwards, the capabilities already available to nearly anyone with a modest budget are nearly sure to change the face of the commercial art, photography and copywriting industries.

The worries among Adobe employees about these prospects could seem like backhanded attempts at promoting the quality of their company’s own AI platform, but they’re also undoubtedly based on real concerns.

After all, if Adobe’s software sales for human visual creators increasingly get replaced by a single subscription to a much simpler-to-use AI image rendering platform, staffing at Adobe itself could easily be downsized too.

Dream bigger with adobe firefly.

Despite still being in its Beta version, Adobe Firefly is already making waves.

According to the Insider report, a key question asked by Adobe investors during an earnings call earlier in 2023 was whether AI would cut into software sales and earnings.

The company’s president of digital media, David Wadhwani, made the counterargument that Adobe has always introduced new technology to its customers. He then mentioned that so far, this has never harmed both productivity and jobs.

Historically, this has usually been true for many technologies across decades and even centuries of economic development.

A nearly universal tendency of new technical developments has been to expand overall productivity in ways that make economies grow and thus hire more people than ever. However, such trends in the long term don’t necessarily mean that many workers (in whatever affected industry) don’t get tossed by the wayside during the changeover.

For photography and visual arts, among other industries most affected by recent advances in AI, we’ll see which way the wind blows.

More likely than not, the expansions in productivity will indeed lead to more job openings, but the compensation levels and creative uniqueness of those new positions might decrease dramatically.

Image credit: Adobe

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Shotkit Journalist, Writer & Reviewer

Stephan Jukic is a technology and photography journalist and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He loves cross-cultural street photo exploration and creating fine art photo compositions.

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