The individuals directly involved in the forefront of the AI revolution

The individuals directly involved in the forefront of the AI revolution

Rafael Rodríguez Deustúa has built his career as an illustrator, catering to clients on request. He promotes his services on the freelance artist platform 99designs and offers a diverse range of artwork, including a retro logo for a champagne brand, a poster for an international fertilizer convention, a tango album cover, and customized tattoo designs. Using the pseudonym Fafarhd Deustúa, he sells his distinct cartoon-style illustrations.

Based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Deustúa primarily works with startups and small businesses in the United States, although he also has a few loyal customers in Europe and Australia. He mentioned that he earns more by working with international clients than he would by focusing solely on local ones. In return, his clients receive high-quality art at a reasonable price.

However, Deustúa, like numerous creative professionals worldwide, has recently encountered a new form of competition: generative artificial intelligence (AI).

He first noticed AI-generated submissions on 99designs’ popular “contest” feature, where clients can invite designs before selecting their favorite. Over the past few months, he has observed individuals submitting entries created using AI image generators like Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and Dall-E.

Deustúa expressed his concern, stating, “It bothers me when someone who lacks the talent or hasn’t put in years of practice can potentially ‘win’ a contest with an illustration they didn’t actually create.” He personally refuses to utilize AI tools in his own work.

Since the highly anticipated launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, there has been a fierce debate among futurists, AI ethicists, and Silicon Valley developers regarding the impact of generative AI on the future of work. Six months later, one particular group at the forefront of this generative AI revolution is offshore outsourced workers.

This category encompasses workers hired on a commission or contractual basis, including freelance copywriters, artists, and software developers, as well as more structured offshore workforces such as customer service agents. As generative AI tools offer a new cost-cutting model, these outsourced workers are facing increasing pressure to adapt or risk losing their jobs.

Rest of World conducted interviews with outsourced workers from various industries and regions, including call center operators in Manila, programmers in Lahore, and designers in Cairo. Many of them reported that they are already witnessing changes in the demand for their work and the stability of their income due to generative AI. While some anticipate layoffs or a decrease in commissions, others have embraced generative AI tools as a means to stay ahead of the curve. If generative AI represents a profound transformation in the way we work, offshore outsourced workers are the ones standing at the forefront of this paradigm shift.

Rest of World reached out to four freelance workers around the world to learn how they use generative AI. We commissioned two pieces of work from each: one created with AI, and one without.