SMU undergrads experienced the future creative workplace through bespoke AI storytelling programme by SMU and Publicis Groupe

A class of Singapore Management University (SMU) undergraduates were given a taste of the future creative workplace, which is being radically transformed by AI, having successfully completed a one-of-a-kind workshop co-designed and co-taught by SMU and Publicis Groupe – one of the largest marketing and communications networks in the world.

Kicking off on 6 March 2023, the undergraduates were challenged to experiment with AI to create a story from start to finish. Using ChatGPT, they started by crafting a synopsis for a fictional tale that is fit for the big screen. Besides using ChatGPT to generate the synopsis, they also used Lexica (to create the images); Eleven Labs (to create the voice for the voiceover); and RunwayML (to create the soundtrack and put everything together). They turned in 45 short films, of which three were picked to be the top entries.

The class of 45 students hailing from various disciplines (including business, economics, information systems and social sciences) had taken part in an innovative academic-industry workshop led by Mark Chong, Associate Professor of Communication Management at SMU’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business, together with Laurent Thevenet, Head of Creative Technology at Publicis Groupe APAC & MEA. The workshop was part of an SMU-X Course titled ‘Storytelling for Organisations and Brands’ that Associate Professor Chong teaches.

“We were amazed at how adept the students are in combining their knowledge of storytelling with AI tools to create engaging mini-films – all within the space of 14 days. So, contrary to the bleak scenarios being painted by some, this experience makes me very optimistic that ChatGPT and other AI tools will herald a golden age of creative storytelling for those who learn how to harness it,” said Chong.

Thevenet added, “Rethinking education to create future workers that are able to work with machines is a must. Last year was an evident milestone when the adoption of creative AI tools suddenly grew exponentially. Today, I see most of our teams at Publicis Groupe using AI in one way or another in their day-to-day, it’s becoming the norm. The fact that AI will transform the workplace is evident, so this programme is designed to equip students in Singapore with the knowledge that will give them an advantage in the future workplace.” 

Students were challenged to create a story with a futuristic premise: “Set in 2045 (the year of singularity) in Singapore, the protagonist of your story has the goal of preventing AI from taking over the world.” From sordid affairs with AI assistants to murderous bots and betrayals, each story redefines what it means to be human post-singularity, bridging the gap between humans and machines.

Three winning ‘mini-films’ were selected based on their use of AI and the strength of their storytelling. Congratulations to first-place winner Keane Lee, second-place winner Tay Hui Li, and Jeremy Khoo and Adil Koh, who jointly placed third.

The jury panel included three esteemed creative technologists: Laurent Thevenet; Calvin Soh, a renowned agency leader who was once voted Asia’s top creative by Campaign Brief and is now founder of One Kind Ideas; and Web3 expert Jean-Francois Thery, Head of Growth at Publicis Singapore.

On the unique learning experience, third-year business undergraduate Luqman Nulhakeem bin Azman said, “I’ve never used ChatGPT prior to this, and it is quite intriguing seeing it being incorporated into our curriculum. When doing this assignment I ran multiple iterations of different storylines, feeding ChatGPT various prompts to see what it would generate. It really is a useful tool to bounce ideas off and brainstorm, I’m very excited to see what these tools are capable of and how they can evolve in the future.” 

Third-year social sciences undergraduate Jeremy Khoo said, “Despite the steep learning curve, this exercise was both engaging and eye-opening. A.I. tools can help anyone and everyone piece together creative, original ideas that would otherwise demand resources or skill to realise – their potential for the future of storytelling is worth getting excited about."

excited about."

You can now view the students’ short films here:

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