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November 1, 2017

Zélia Sakhi: Using new technology to connect the dots

Zélia Sakhi is Head of Creative and Partner at Mobiento in Stockholm. Ahead of her talk at the 4th European Creativity Festival she gives us her take on the theme of ‘Imagineering Creative Intelligence’. Below, her pragmatic approach to integrating technology into our lives reveals that we should believe in ourselves; overcome imposter syndrome, use imagination as a problem solver, and don’t to be fearful of machines taking our jobs.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

We are so lucky to work in a field that changes constantly and forces you to learn new skills every day. I keep going mostly to see how far this will take us.

What will your talk at the European Creativity Festival cover?

I want to talk about the perception that our industry has of people, organisations and software considered ‘not creative’.

I will also discuss the impostor syndrome that prevents some people exposing their ideas, for fear of not being creative enough. It’s time we look at what being creative means, outside of our own bubble.

My own agency got acquired two years ago and we work more than ever with data. These frameworks and solutions can be perceived as constraining if looked at with a traditional agency lens. That has made us more powerful creatively speaking.

Why is now the right time to be talking about this?

There’s a lot of speculation right now about the consultancies buying creative agencies and programmatic advertising and machine-learning supplanting us in our jobs. There is almost an allergic reaction to this, as if this was a threat to our core existence.

Maybe it is, but maybe it’s not. And while I don’t think anyone can accurately predict what will happen, we still have to adapt; as a profession and as individuals.

What do you hope people come away with from your talk?

I hope to:

– Help people identify the different types of creative personalities around them, and encourage them to give a voice to those who are unheard.

– Explain how to recognise when we are getting irrational fears.

– Reflect on what our industry is made of today, and what it will need tomorrow to succeed.

What does ‘Imagineering creative intelligence’ mean to you?

If by that we mean, leveraging technology to transcend creativity — it means that we are finally reaching out to a lot of new, untouched potential for ideas. Great thinkers and creatives have always managed to connect the dots in new, unpredicted ways. Well, now there are just many more dots, and way more possible patterns. Using the help provided by technology doesn’t make you less of a creative, it just makes you a smarter one.

What creative work have you seen recently that embodied ‘creative intelligence?

There is a lot of work being produced right now that uses data to spur creative work. The one piece of work that embodies this the best and still to this day, makes me question what is art, talent or creativity, is still ‘The Next Rembrandt’.

This piece of work by JWT analysed a pattern in Rembrandt’s work in order to reproduce a faux with the help of technology. I love that this is deconstructing talent as something quantifiable and reproducible — and that it questions how we feel about it. It is scary and fascinating at the same time.

*How does your imagination help you in your daily life?

My imagination allows me not to get stuck in the wrong corners — there are no dead ends when you can think of five other ways to do things.

*What imminent technological developments are going to affect creativity the most?

I personally don’t think that it’s creativity per se which is going to be affected, but rather the human tasks that are connected to it. For now, machine learning is mostly threatening basic design jobs by producing ads by the kilo. But it will produce concepts anytime soon — good ones and bad ones. We will have to check at that point what we believe has the most value: human-made ideas or profitable ideas.

What other sessions are you excited about seeing at the Festival (listed here) ?

Fernanda Romano – she might well have figured out the secret to surviving the AI uprising: the insanity that’s in all of us.

Imagineering Creative Intelligence runs 10 – 11 November 2017. It takes places at Disseny Hub Barcelona, and all talks will be in English. Tickets are priced at a very reasonable €60, less for students and ADCE members.