If there has been one contentious topic in the world of art and design over the last couple of years, it's AI. Ethical questions over copyright and implications for creatives have plagued image generators since the start, so it's perhaps no surprise that Adobe has been at pains to portray a sense of responsibility with its own offering, Firefly. But it seems it might not be enough for the company's own employees.
According to a new report, a debate is raging inside Adobe about the existential threat its AI technology could pose for its own customer base, with examples cited of design teams already downsizing thanks to the effectiveness of Adobe Firefly within Photoshop. (Check out our guide on how to download Photoshop if you want to try it for yourself.)
According to Business Insider, internal Slack channels feature Adobe employees referring to the rise of its AI software as "depressing" and tantamount to an "existential crisis". By removing the need for labour in certain aspects of design, Adobe employees are allegedly concerned that the company risks cannibalising its own source of income by threatening the jobs of its users – fewer designers means fewer customers. And it isn't just staff that are concerned – according the report, one analyst claims the number one question investors are asking is whether AI advancements might reduce software sales.
While Adobe was somewhat late to the AI game, it has made strides in 2023, with the likes of Generative Fill and Project Gingerbread blowing minds online. But the company has maintained throughout that its own AI offering is ethical, even calling on users to help it "do the right thing" with AI. As of now, the Firefly model is only trained on licensed Adobe Stock imagery, and the company is dedicated to its Content Authenticity Initiative.
With that in mind, it'll be bad news for Adobe that talk of internal discontent is entering the public realm – it isn't entirely consistent with the company's strong PR line about doing the right thing. That said, it isn't hard to imagine that these concerns are ripe within other creative software companies – the likes of Canva and Figma are embracing AI with aplomb in 2023.