3 Applications of Generative AI in 2023 for Gen Z… Today & Tomorrow

Practical use cases across image, text, and audio for the next generation. Celebrity meet-and-greets, AI-driven college decisions, and more.

Welcome back to Meagan’s Newsletter: The Gen Z POV, where I break down trends, industries, and tech with a Gen Z lens every other week. If you haven’t already guessed, I’m Meagan and I’m so happy you’re here.

This week we’re going to do a dive into the hottest topic of 2023: Generative AI. I’ve seen several incredible landscapes mapping out the space (here, here), but not much about the potential application of the tech across industries and use cases – both what we’re already seeing in the early days, and what we could see in the very near-term.

Last week I wrote & published an educational children’s book using ChatGPT / DALL·E 2 in under 2 hours (Business Insider wrote about it here) to serve as an illustrative example of just how powerful the technology can be when applied creatively… and this is just the beginning. Celebs are getting in on the action too (and being upfront about their use of the tech), like Ryan Reynolds using ChatGPT to write a commercial for Mint Mobile “in his own voice” using a joke, curse words, etc… give it a watch. If there’s anything that Gen Z goes feral for (esp. the boyz), it’s Ryan Reynolds.

For this 1st edition of 2023, I’m going to outline 3 Applications of Generative AI in 2023 for Gen Z… Today & Tomorrow, specifically across categories like Text, Images, and Audio where I’m seeing a ton of adoption and trends developing.

  1. Images: The New Celebrity Meet-and-Greet

    1. Automating selfies with celebrities using AI

  2. Text: The Fastest Way to Make New Decisions

    1. Augmenting every-day decisions by automating pros-and-cons lists

  3. Audio: A New Era of Music Therapy

    1. Easing anxiety for the next-generation via AI-generated sounds

It’s a new year & I’m experimenting… so at the bottom of the newsletter, I’ll link a few things (tech, culture & life) I’m intrigued by at the moment. Think creator collabs happening rn, standout dinner party questions, and more. Now… onto the good stuff ⬇️

To start, Generative AI is all about generating new content based on the datasets it’s being trained on – and this can happen across content categories like Images, Text, Audio, Video, Code, Gaming, and more. For these examples, I’m going to focus on the first three listed.

1. Images: The New Celebrity Meet-and-Greet 

Automating selfies with celebrities using AI

One of the biggest trends we talk about in Gen Z world is the creator economy – how everyone wants to be a creator, be seen, and make money while doing it. It’s why the top career choice for our generation is to be a YouTuber, and of the 50 million content creators globally, ~60% are Gen Z.

And for our generation, when we meet a creator or celebrity IRL, our first instinct is to ask for a selfie or a photo (not an autograph). And fans will pay a lot of money to be able to meet their heroes in-person, ranging from $135 to upwards of $2,000 for stars like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears.

But then, it became easier and more normalized to pay for digital interactions with celebrities – personalized messages, videos, or even face-times – because of the pandemic and tools like Cameo (ie: this incredible personalized roast for $350 from TikTok it-boy-of-the-moment and comedian Matt Rife who has 6.4M followers) which democratized access for fans. You could even see this behavior in the metaverse last year, when taking a screenshot with you and your fave celeb’s avatar was the equivalent of a digital selfie (I wrote about this phenomenon here).

But it can be really hard to scale those 1:1 interactions both in-person and digitally, which is where generative AI comes in.

You’ve seen apps like Lensa AI create “magic avatars” from your own selfies featuring stylized images of you in different themes (ie: anime, cosmic, fantasy, fairy, etc.). It doesn’t seem too far-fetched to believe we’ll be able to create those same images alongside other people, but I imagine musicians/celebs want to be able to monetize & control the experience (especially since there have been some questionable creations, ie: sexualizing women which I wrote about here).

Since I’m a Swiftie, I’ll use Taylor Swift as an example – especially since she doesn’t do paid meet & greets anymore! Imagine a world where as a fan, you pay $1.99 - $10.99 for a pack of 10-100 images – digitally created using AI that generate stylized images of you and Taylor Swift based on the themes from her 10 albums. One pack for “Speak Now” with princess themed backgrounds & headdresses, one pack for “Folklore” with a woodsy theme, etc. And before it’s shared with the user, it’s verified with her digital signature as a collectible.

There would be a viral coefficient as people share their AI-generated meet-and-greets online (just as they shared their avatars from MyHeritage to see themselves throughout history on TikTok), and FOMO would kick in for all the Swifties wanting to partake.

2. Text: The Fastest Way to Make New Decisions 

Augmenting every-day decisions by automating pros-and-cons lists

Gen Z is the first digitally native generation and often the first to adopt new tech and tools that make our lives easier… like Notion.

  • #notion has 626 million views on TikTok with people using Notion to organize their lives, share templates and aesthetics, and WRITE.

Notion is an incredibly popular tool for Gen Z, and I think we’ll see massive adoption of their new AI features and use cases develop here over time… but the demand is here now. Case in point… Notion AI launched 1 month ago and I am currently #1,055,066 in line for their private alpha waitlist to try it (sighhhh 😒).

The text applications of Generative AI feel the most immediate (vs. image, video, etc.), with students already using tools like ChatGPT to write their essays for them (enter terms like “chatbot cheating” from college professors). But I think we’ll see really interesting applications in everyday life, like decision-making.

When Notion launched the AI Assistant on their TikTok (Dec 20th), I rushed to the comments to see how people were using it and what they thought of the product – many were positive, but the multiple mentions of their “Pros and Cons List” feature was what stood out to me.

After further review, Notion’s AI will “generate a comprehensive list of pros and cons, allowing you to compare alternatives from different perspectives” with one user commenting “currently using the pro/con list to talk me out of bad decisions, I won’t lie.”

Notion already helps Gen Zers automate most aspects of our lives… why shouldn’t decision-making be next?

Think about this use case: choosing the right college. SO much independent research goes into this. Imagine if over-time as the algorithms improve, a large part of it is automated.

I ask Notion: “Make a pros and cons list for attending Boston College” and then it spits out tons of information I’m looking for with context based on my preferences: size, location, clubs and activities, etc… Pretty powerful.

3. Audio: A New Era of Music Therapy

Easing anxiety for the next-generation via AI-generated sounds

Gen Z is notoriously called the most stressed out generation, battling anxiety, depression, and general mental health issues. We’re also open about turning to therapy and normalizing these stigmas, but the types of therapy have expanded way beyond just talk therapy in recent years.

Pinterest is one of the world’s biggest search engines, and every year they put out an annual trends/prediction report to clue into what their 445 million MAUs are searching for… with 80% of their report predictions coming true over the past 3 years 😮

And according to Pinterest, Gen Z is actively searching for creative ways to work on themselves & alternatives to talk therapy (ie: art journaling was up a whopping 37x). Music therapy was also on this list trending on Pinterest, and although it was the smallest increase at a 30% bump, I imagine we’ll see more of it.

If the growth of TikTok has shown us anything, it’s our generation’s obsession with sound and pairing it with video and images. Coincidentally, this video popped up on my FYP just today – it shows a pianist pairing original music she created with a video of a painting being created in-real-time. It’s incredibly soothing and rightfully has 4 million+ views despite this creator @itsmedanielleyi only having 11.2k followers. I anticipate seeing more reaction-style videos on TikTok in this exact style, but also Generative AI platforms mimicking this via new apps and such – creating music and sound meant to soothe and acting as a new form of therapy. Just as we’ve seen existing platforms like Notion break into the generative AI space, I imagine mental health and meditation apps like Calm and Headspace are next to break into the category exactly like this.

There are already generative AI apps in the music therapy category like brain.fm which creates “music made for your brain”... and the science is crazy. This is how it works:

Humans compose the musical content (the art: melodies, harmonies, chord progressions, sound design, instrument choices, etc.) Then, a patented algorithmic system (A.I.) arranges these motifs over long timescales, and adds the acoustic features which constitute our core technology (the science: modulation to alter brain activity, 3D spatialization, salience reduction, etc.). Finally, compositions are assessed by human listeners in-house and tweaked or discarded if necessary, and are tested via large-scale experiments to ensure they have the properties required to help listeners attain and sustain desired mental states over long periods of time.

A powerful example of how AI is meant to augment and not necessarily replace.

To cap off this article, I want to reiterate that similar to how we saw Gen Z become the primary drivers of adoption in the metaverse (the hot topic of 2022), we’re likely going to see the same thing with generative AI. Just think about it for a moment…

I read so much about Gen Zers figuring out (1) life hacks to simplify their workload and (2) ways to turn passions into side hustles. Generative AI combines these perfectly, making everyday tasks easier and creating new categories and ways to make money.

Again… this is just the beginning. If you’re seeing Gen Zers use Generative AI in creative ways, please send info my way – I’d love to hear from you.

And as promised, here are the videos, articles, and trends I’m following this week:

  • Tech: This TikTok showing a Gen Zer “hacking their life” using NFC tags, ie tapping your phone to a tag when you enter a house to connect to the wifi vs. asking for the password. They only cost a few cents (aka affordable for Gen Z) and take a few minutes to set up (aka convenient… you can buy on Amazon), so I can see this becoming a trend this year // 10.5M views, 1.4M likes. This is bringing me down a rabbit hole that I might end up featuring in the coming weeks.

  • Culture: This week in collab culture, we’ve got a hot one coming up between TikTok food reviewer Keith Lee (8.9M followers) and Mr. Beast (one of the biggest YouTubers in the worldddd). If you don’t already follow Keith, he focuses his reviews on helping support local businesses, is super honest (and followers live/die by his ratings on food from 1-10), and humble – I really really like him. When Mr. Beast asked Keith to review his chocolate brand Feastables, Keith agreed on a few conditions (mentioned in the video above) and this whole shindig is kicking off this week. Will be so interesting to follow along & see how the continued creator/collab culture evolves (especially since Mr. Beast is involved).

  • Life: I am a dinner party super fan, and love a good theme and a good conversation starter. This TikTok video states that “every grown adult needs a ‘stand out’ dinner party question” and frankly… I agree. And the comments here are super interesting / I plan to implement some at my own dinner parties in the future. I personally liked this one in the comments: “What category on Jeopardy! could you sweep & get all the answers?”

Alrighty! Hope you enjoyed this new format and are down for bi-weekly insights on Gen Z trends, deep dives & Monday mornings with me. As always, I’m here if you have questions, concerns, or anything in between. I love hearing from you & thank you for supporting me as a Gen Z creator.

Much love,