AI and the future of design

There has been a lot of buzz around Artificial Intelligence and automatisation in the workforce lately, but the creative industries still seem to be a bit of an enigma. Some experts are claiming there is no need to worry and some are claiming that creating a creative AI will be the last thing we ever create. Both are a bit extreme for my taste. The only definite fact is that the future will be very different. And my job as a graphic designer will most likely level up to something I can only imagine today.

But maybe this is not a bad thing. We have become almost completely dependent on our software, and involving AI in our processes today is probably not very different from designers who went digital in the 90’s. Our software already has features like face recognition and adaptive layouts. We have algorithms so that ‘websites can design themselves’ or can ‘instantly generate beautiful, unique logo ideas’ for customers. But AI algorithms in these cases can only do one job and have to work in controlled environments with access to large databases of templates and references.

We might claim this is not very creative, yet our own design processes are not that different from it. We too are closely connected to the internet and large databases of templates and references that we then mix-match (knowingly or unknowingly) into something new. Sometimes the ‘something new’ is truly amazing and gets awards and sets new trends. But for an everyday designer, our lives on the job are mostly the execution part, and therefore not very creative. These new tools can now get the mundane and boring tasks out of the way quicker. That might mean fewer designers will be needed in the future or it might mean we will all have more time to do the creative part. I obviously don’t have an answer to that, but it does raise another question. Can an autonomous AI ever take over the creative part as well? Will it ever be able to come up with something completely new?

My logic tends to get very dismissive in cases like this. Yet for a brief moment this summer we have coexisted in space and time with 2 chatbots who have realised our language is slowing down their trading sessions. Therefore they have created their own means of communicating, unknown to men. It is hard for us to imagine what it’s like to be something else than human, and we need to accept that creativity in AI may come in different shapes and forms.

If we do accept those and learn how to work alongside them, the best scenario for the creative industries in the future seems to be human-computer collaboration. Although we are not completely there yet, we can already see a lot of different steps taken in that direction.

For now, AI and technology are just tools, developed for our needs. In the end, it will be up to us to decide how we use them and how exciting we make the future.



Text: Sara Mlakar

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