While it’s hard to imagine such systems contributing (yet!) to the more abstract components that make up great design – conceptual ideas, visual nuances, stories and art historical reference points – the optimistic view is that they will free us from the mundane and enable us to get on with the fun stuff. And just as happened with coding and almost every tool beforehand, AI systems offer all sorts of creative possibilities for those willing to engage and tinker with them.
Already, tools that creatives use every day are incorporating elements of machine learning to handle repetitive tasks or mine data to help with targeting or tagging – tools such as Adobe’s Sensei which assists you with Visual Search and speeds up your creative workflow. But what would we like them to do in future? We spoke to a few people across various disciplines about what they want from AI technology, and why.
“I would benefit from a voice recognition interface to use with programmes like Illustrator or InDesign, where I could sit comfortably and say ‘right I’d like a big red circle…no, a little smaller,’ and so on. That idea of a surround sound interface VR environment is almost already initiated in a sense, I’m not talking Minority Report style with the specialised gloves, but a system which would work intuitively and purely by voice interactions. That seems quite attractive to me – I would like to just be able to say ‘I’d like that a little tighter, let’s adjust that by 0.5’. That sort of system also makes the idea of teaching design really exciting too. A real barrier for a lot of new students in particular is that there’s this illusion that there’s something we’re not teaching them, or these ‘secrets’ that could somehow solve design. With an interface like the one I described, it would be much easier to convey the fact that design is a physical thing; it’s an activity, it’s emotional and it’s within your grasp, it’s not just about the computer!”
Luke Powell and Jody Hudson-Powell, Partners, Pentagram
“The general feeling around AI and machine learning can be very dystopian and what’s perpetuated in the news, media, TV and film gets in the way of being able to discuss the benefits. We seem to ignore the fact that machine learning runs all of the big systems that run the world. Financial services or health services would buckle without them. Thinking about it as a tool, as a designer you could have your own personal AI that understands your creative style. It could try out different variants on a project and work alongside human input. Ultimately with design the judgement needs to land on a person, but AI could help with recognising if a design works in a certain region or for someone with a disability. That practical help with technical differences could be really useful for things like designing fonts in other alphabets, while maintaining a personal design style and building on the work you’ve been doing already.”
Zsofia Schweger, Artist
“A lot of my work is about colour, so I spend a lot of time blending and mixing. Sometimes I want to use a colour that I’ve mixed before – either deliberately or accidentally – or I’ve found it on a Pantone chart. I then have to sit down and try and mix it again and all of those pigments can be really expensive. The amount of time it takes varies with any given colour, however I’d love to be able to use a colour matching system. You could have 15 different tubes to work with, then scan in the colour you want and the technology would give you the perfect recipe. So it’s still maintains the qualities of a human-made fine art work, but reduces the time and streamlines the colour mixing process.”
James Earls, Co-Founder of design and motion graphics agency Studio Crême
“AI is a divisive subject. Ultimately, we’re going to have very powerful systems, but we’re not sure how to use them as a tool for design. In terms of helping us, power input would be helpful; things like rendering in a fast way, or distributing tasks in a smarter way to take smaller tasks off our hands. What would be interesting to see is how AI can pick out important points or data in things, helping the process as a production tool,”
Charlie Kwai, Photographer
“A photograph keeps the past in the present. The challenge is bringing the future into the present – never missing the moment could one day be a thing of the past. The making of a photograph is inherently a human expression of how we see the world, and what we want to say: above all, it works on intuitiveness and instinct. Documenting existence is important to us, we’ve always done it and always will – even more so now than ever before. Making that process automated is where AI could be a powerful tool. We’ll probably have a robot to do it for us and the algorithm would mean it gets it right every time.”
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