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  • Alexis Hultine

Dall-E's Promise vs. The World of Subpar Stock Photos

The Frustrating Gap in Stock Images: A Digital Transformation Consultant's Rant 

As a consultant navigating the fast currents of digital transformation, I've waded through countless stock images, each falling frustratingly short of technology's pace. As tech changes how we live and work, we're left without the right images to show these new realities. The result? A plethora of cliché images: professionals with perpetual smiles, ensconced in sleek offices, gadgets in hand. These visuals are like elevator music—blending into the background, barely registering in our conscious thought. 

However, imagery is key in articulating complex, unprecedented experiences. Take the pandemic's peak, for example. Remote work became the norm for many office workers. At this tumultuous time, I led a team to prepare an organization for the shift to hybrid work. I needed a visual that captured this new work arrangement: people collaborating from their homes, conference rooms, and on the go. A visual aid that prompted IT, HR, and Real Estate leaders to strategize on support for hardware, connectivity, and training.  There was nothing suitable in major photo stock websites, not even something I could adapt. Custom sketches became a temporary solution. 

This was more than a nuisance; it was a gaping hole in our visual vocabulary. As we navigate these uncharted waters, the need for imagery that resonates with our rapidly evolving tech experiences has never been more urgent.

AI's Role in Crafting Future Visuals 

Enter the world of AI image generation. Tools like Dall-E are not just creating images; they're crafting visual narratives from the front lines of technological evolution. Imagine being able to generate an image of a virtual team creatively brainstorming in a digital workspace that doesn't even exist yet. This is the power of AI – to visualize the future of work, sometimes from mere predictions or the imaginations of those shaping the tech landscape. 


The Fist Bump Experiment with Dall-E 

In my previous article, I explored the notion that consultants who embrace AI could gain an edge. I illustrated this with a job scenario that was not replaced by AI but enhanced by it—showing how a symbiotic relationship between a consultant and AI could yield more impactful results. 


I turned to Dall-E, hoping AI capabilities could give me a new chance to create supporting imagery. I asked Dall-E to create an image of a fist bump – a simple gesture yet rich in meaning. 


Need a good laugh? Let me share the highlights of my adventure, and I'll leave out just how long it took. 

Dall-E generated

Wrong gesture. Don't count the fingers.

Dall-E generated

Not any better.

Dall-E generated

After I copied and pasted a description of a fist bump from Google

Dall-E generated

Trying to tweak it.

Understanding the Limitations and Potential of AI in Imagery 

DALL-E struggled with specifics – the number of fingers varied, the hand gesture was strange and often wrong, and the more I iterated, the more the gender representation in the images became ambiguous, almost masculine, despite my initial instructions to make it a female hand. This highlighted a significant limitation in AI-generated imagery: while capable of producing creative visuals, Dall-E still struggles with accurately representing detail and nuance. 

The Future of AI and Imagery in Digital Transformation Story Telling

As we look to the future, AI's role in image generation is poised to grow exponentially. Tools like Dall-E will evolve, closing the gap between our imagination and visual representation. For consultants and storytellers in the tech world, this means a new era of visual communication – one where our stories are not just told but vividly brought to life for richer conversations about technology’s impact. 


For now, though, we're stuck relying on custom sketches, icons, and written narratives for visual storytelling in digital transformation. 

I’m not giving up, I’m just hitting ‘pause’ so I don’t lose more evenings trying to sketch something that DALL-E and I can’t get right...yet.

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