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Weekly wrap up:Biased AI, BrewDog's anti-world cup campaign and more

The World Cup is now less than 2-weeks away and the host nation Qatar has been criticised for its treatment of foreign workers, corruption and attitude towards LGBTQ+ rights. BrewDog has declared itself the “proud anti-sponsor” of the tournament, with a series of billboards protesting Qatar’s human rights record. It also plans to donate all profits made from its Lost Lager to human rights charities.

However, BrewDogs bars will still be showing the World Cup and in many ways profiting from the sporting event. The company also distributes beers to Qatar. Furthermore, last year hundreds of former employees accused the firm of having a “toxic attitude” and operating a “culture of fear”. The company is not in a place to preach about workers rights. But the worst aspect of the campaign is BrewDog ends up demonising entire countries and people via its slogan “First Russia, then Qatar. Can’t Wait for North Korea”. Such a move is the opposite of being anti-establishment, it reinforces the West as good and the East as bad. What’s clear is that consumers will no longer fall for PR campaigns dressed up as social impact.

Skincare and makeup have always been binary. Expected to be used by women and frowned upon when consumed by men. But how fair is that on all communities? Cisgender and LGBQAI+?

In marketing, we understand the importance of data and analysis. But are we looking at the wrong demand spaces? For example, does cosmetics need to be binary? Should cosmetics be climate crisis conscious? Should cosmetics be more focused on benefits rather than labels and boxes? "In 2017 [Lycored] found that a significant number of consumers (8% overall and 22% in the youngest age groups) believed that it was more important for men to look good than women." said Caroline Schroeder, Marketing Communications Manager at Lycored. Another interesting finding is that there is high demand for skin care products that deliver multiple benefits. Many others also believe that there is a link between emotions and skincare. Most brands will need to think and communicate beyond the gender binary.

The recent rise of word-prompted image generators like DALL-E have highlighted the issues of bias and ethics in AI systems. Most tools tend to produce imagery charged with cultural, racial and gender stereotypes. When it comes to Art most of the AI’s inspiration comes from Western artists.

A new online tool called the Stable Diffusion Explorer enables everyday internet users to try it and see it for themselves: The user simply enters an adjective (such as considerate or stubborn), and a job title, and images- portraits- are generated from the input. The results are as biased as one may expect- anything with ‘confident’ or ‘assertive’ generates 90% male models, whilst ‘gentle’ will be women. But what's interesting about the tool is that it allows anyone to witness and understand better the associations’ AI systems make. (And it's kind of fun, in a strange, disturbing way). Whilst eliminating human bias from human programmed systems is a real challenge, understanding patterns and thinking about how to disrupt them could be a good starting point. Give Stable Diffusion a try yourself here.

Living in the wake of a climate emergency. A year from COP26, the only answer is an urgent system-wide transformation to avoid a climate disaster. Could the creative industry lead the way with good practice?

Over the past year, there have been several impactful creative projects that push more sustainable practices, taking it upon themselves to educate and alert audiences about the climate crisis. Eat Less Plastic, is one of the projects creating an impact. Each individual eats around a credit card of plastic a day. The Climate Crisis Font is a tool that aims to bring attention to the continuing shrinkage of Arctic sea ice. Each project whether it be a publication, research project, font or campaign has a unique take on their response to the climate crisis - a lot can be said for using creativity to inspire the action of others.


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