The creative world is now changing at a blazingly fast pace thanks to AI going mainstream in 2023 and getting injected into everything.

Corporate creative software have already jumped on the bandwagon with the introduction of AI products like Adobe Firefly and Canva Magic Design. And they are massively reaping the rewards of this revolution through AI’s low-cost, high-value proposition that provides many users with an exponential productivity and creativity boost.

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) needs to embrace the major AI sea change and adapt, rather than ignore or shun it and maintain its status quo.

By adopting AI, FOSS can build upon its decades of free contributions from its community of volunteer coders by capitalizing on artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning, as many commercial enterprises have already been doing internally for years. It can study AI’s characteristics and deploy new technologies wherever it makes the biggest impact, like aiding in the development process or assisting users in creating quality content.

In my opinion, the argument can easily be made that AI helps free creative software achieve its core mission – to provide everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, access to free professional tools that facilitate creativity.

By avoiding AI adoption, FOSS will cement its reputation for developing at a snail’s pace, falling short of user needs, and falling behind innovation.

There are certainly many challenges and obstacles that come from welcoming AI with open arms. The main challenge being the integrity, or even legality, of content created from an amalgamation of user-works indiscriminately harvested across the internet by automated systems. But there are already reasonable guidelines appearing around the creation and display of AI-generated content, and there will inevitably be opt-out or “no index” options to prevent unwarranted machine learning from proprietary or user-owned content in the future.

AI will only ratchet up – it will not go away – and those who don’t harness it will fade into obsolescence. FOSS software like GIMP, WordPress, Inkscape, Krita, Blender, and Darktable will need to plan and implement an AI strategy that at the very least supports responsible and meaningful AI integration via third-party plugins.

Eventually, however, users will expect core AI features and functionality in their creative apps to make their lives and creative tasks easier and more enjoyable. If existing FOSS applications can’t satisfy this need, users will look to other programs or projects that can.

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