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The Present & Future of AI in Design!

Throughout my career, I’ve advocated working smarter and not harder. From automating tasks and actions in Adobe Photoshop CC or even using spell check to ensure my writing is consistent, I have always enjoyed reducing tedious work with the help of Machine Learning and AI.

 

By Ade-Lee Adebiyi , Head of Design at SoPost & Founder of ‘make it pop’, User Research & Workshop Facilitator

 

This mindset hasn’t changed. Reducing grunt work using machine learning and AI has become much easier.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you should be relatively familiar with ChatGPT, the advanced AI language model developed by OpenAI that uses machine-learning techniques to understand and generate human-like text based on the input it receives.


I could get ChatGPT to study my writing style and then write a response to an email I would otherwise ignore. I could use ChatGPT to analyse all the answers from a group ideation session, summarise the key callouts and then use that as the basis for my reporting. I could also ask ChatGPT to do all the reporting for me. (I’ve never done any of this! This is all theoretical).


ChatGPT is one of the many learning models that has made AI and machine learning accessible to everyone and has successfully demystified AI to the masses. So much so, ‘influencers’ of all folk no longer promote their get-rich crypto token and have shifted to promoting ‘training courses’ on how to best harness AI, for a fee.


Now I’m no AI expert. I have, however, been very interested in how AI has and will continue to shape how we work and how the industry evolves and adapts to it.


While AI is terrifying the masses and making everyone question their long-term job longevity, let’s look at how we got to where we are and understand how it hasn’t been a sudden leap but a gradual and expected one.

The Past: Humble Beginnings

Once upon a time, there were designers, pure elitist artisans, who laboured over each project with only a palette, a canvas, and an endless supply of caffeine. Then came Adobe / Macromedia’s set of tools, slowly creeping into the corners of design and development, reducing the entry barrier to becoming a graphic designer. These tools adopted basic AI and Machine Learning to automate routine tasks, like layout configurations, colour matching, and photo editing. During this creative tooling revolution, the elitist artisans considered the Adobe / Macromedia tools as the potential unravelling of the design fabric and the end of their career as they knew it. And truthfully, it was if they didn’t adapt their skillset.


The Present: It’s AI’s World; We’re Just Living In It

Fast-forward to the present and AI-driven design is almost a daily occurrence. Tools like Canva have again reduced the barrier of entry for graphic design, while tools like Figma have made it easier than ever to create comprehensive user experiences and ideate. The barrier gets even lower with AI-powered tools not just whispering calculations anymore; they’re shouting ideas. Adobe Sensei can now identify and edit images with the precision of a professional photographer with one too many espressos.


With the recent release of Firefly and Generative AI, it’s even easier to edit photos to a professional standard. In graphic design, machine learning algorithms create bespoke-ish designs from scratch. It’s like having a computerised {{insert design influencer here}} at your disposal.


Regarding web and UX/UI design, AI has gone full Sherlock Holmes, analysing user behaviour to deliver tailored experiences. Tools can now automatically design websites, much like Wix’s ADI.


If you told a web designer in the 90s that a machine would be doing their job, they would have laughed in your face and then gone back to wrestling with HTML.


Industrial design and architecture have gotten a severe upgrade too. Now, you tell the AI what you want, and it comes back with multiple designs.

The elitist artisans of today are in the same dilemma. They must adapt or be left behind. No longer can they get away with just a single specialist skillset. They must learn to harness AI’s power and, honestly, develop their soft skills and project management.


AI will lower the barriers to entry into the world of design, much like Photoshop and Canva have done in the past.

The Future: Full Steam Ahead

Looking to the future, it’s clear that AI isn’t just here to stay but to take over. However, before you start worrying about a Skynet situation, let’s clarify that this doesn’t mean we’ll all be replaced by robots. Instead, we will see AI reducing our workload and freeing us up to do what we do best: creating, innovating, and pushing boundaries.


Imagine getting a concept to a viable design stage faster than ever before, not having to sweat the small stuff, like manual editing or tedious calculations. You’ll be able to delve deeper into your designs, research, and work, exploring new territories and ideas without getting bogged down by the logistics.


On top of that, AI will lower the barriers to entry into the world of design, much like Photoshop and Canva have done in the past. This will result in better products, more innovative designs, and more impressive “stuff” overall. We might even see a reduction in designer-induced coffee consumption.

But wait, there’s a catch!


Remember that even with AI’s help, you still need to bring creativity to the table. Much like a paintbrush needs a painter, AI needs a creative mind to guide it. So keep flexing those creative muscles, my fellow designers. The future of design may be AI, but it still needs us to make the magic happen.

To the elitist artisans of tomorrow, learn to adapt, use AI to reduce your workload and accept that you cannot escape it.

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Johan Karoro
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28 de mar.

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