The robots haven’t taken over…yet. However, they are seeping their way into creative industries. It may feel as though we’re on the cusp of something exciting or unsettling, from songs entirely composed by AI to short films written by computers to artworks created using artificial neural networks. It all depends on your perspective.
Our ability to create tools has long been one of the most fundamental distinctions between humans and most other species roaming the planet. The tools we’ve created have enabled us to create even better tools, and so the innovation cycle continues.
With each invention, the time in between developments shrinks thanks to our superior tool replacements. However, it was only until the beginning of the industrial revolution that tools were no longer replacing other tools, they began to replace basic human tasks.
Fast-forward to 2017 where design technology has become so advanced that websites now have the ability to design themselves. A perfect example is The Grid, a web-based platform that’s able to create websites using nothing more than its AI web designer named Molly. After uploading your content, answering a few simple selection criteria and a click of a button, Molly will scour her ever growing database of existing work, until presto, you have yourself a website.
Before you decide to hunt down Molly and send her back to whatever fresh hell she came from, hear me out. It’s not all that bad.
When you isolate human designers from the creative process you get predictably bland results. Tell me that you can’t spot a Squarespace website from a mile away? Design is about far more than choosing an appropriate template and filling it with content. There are such a variety of decisions that happen along the way – a lot of which can’t be described clearly to a computer.
Siri barely knows how to connect a call to my mum, let alone create a campaign idea that will help achieve my client’s business goals and emotionally resonate with their audiences.
Robot + Human = Super Designer
Instead of using technology to make decisions for designers, what we need is a shift in the creative process. We should be embracing ways for designers to work in creative collaboration to solve problems with their computer overlords, not have them do their work for them. (Anyway, that’s one sure-fire way to end up with a violent robot uprising on your hands.)
If an algorithm can resize assets into 20 different formats, the designer is free to focus on what no computer can – creative work. This shift in mindset would then create the distinction between what is creative work and what is production work, freeing up time and energy better spent solving design problems or determining the look and feel of the next project.
The possibilities don’t stop at design. Think of how much time you could save as a digital marketer if you had access to a program that had the ability to scour photos on a social media platform of your choice, and feed a report back to you based on the colours, trends and styles that are gaining the most traction with your audience. Then you, as a humble human could use it as a starting point for your strategy development.
What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger
Our fear of technology isn’t a new thing by any means – remember all of the cheesy technology gone wrong horror movies during the 70’s? However, we’ve been here before and our creativity has been all the better for it. Before Adobe, graphic design was an arduous process where cutting and pasting was literally a physical task.
Unique thought, design and art have always served as catalyst for the evolution of society, so the more time we have to spend on these pursuits the better. Machines can aid us in creating art, but they can never decide what is art. Well, not yet anyway…
Don’t fear the machine. Embrace it.