The arrival of AI symbolizes a new age for the job market. Automation has rapidly changed the face of employment in all directions, leaving industries scrambling to keep up. Now the conversation has since shifted more toward threats that it poses, such as replacing people who do traditional jobs. One particular group is just not having it.
The design community prides itself on its main currency: Creativity. A designer’s job is to put an imaginative spin on ideas and create inspired works. They’re real artists in their own right, only using a different medium.
However, with free design assets entering the picture, it’s understandable for some designers to feel their jobs have been devalued. With recent studies adding fuel to the debate, it’s no wonder that some graphic designers are concerned. One Oxford University study, for instance, claimed that 47% of American jobs are susceptible to being replaced by AI systems and robots. But are all these claims alarmist? Is it high time for designers to begin future-proofing their careers?
The Catch with AI-Driven Design
AI has crept into the design world long ago, right under the noses of average users. Hardcore designers who know their tools are aware, though. Most photo-editing applications, including Adobe Photoshop, are steeped in AI. Here are some current examples of AI’s use cases in design:
- Adobe’s AI and machine learning (ML) system, Sensei, aims to shorten the amount of time designers spent working on projects, from recommending assets from its database to changing backgrounds. The same AI and ML algorithm is also used by other Adobe software for predictive analytics and digitizing paper documents.
- Netflix uses AI for its personalized recommendation system. One of the technology’s main tasks is to create different iterations of home screen posters to draw audiences to a particular video release. The system starts with a cropped character image then adds a localized movie title to it. The final output is then tested on users. The decision to stylize design marks and the choice of scenes for artwork images are based on a user’s preference for specific genres or actors, among other things.
- Brandmark is an algorithm-driven web application that allows users to create logos by answering a few brand-related questions. Users can choose a variety of generated logos and pay a corresponding package for added customization features.
If you visit Brandmark’s website, you’ll see several testimonials praising it. “I was afraid to pay thousands for a logo that didn’t turn out right for my business. The Brandmark team helped me create a logo that I love,” reads one—a completely valid point in the eyes of startup owners on a shoestring budget. On the flip side, this may also imply that entrepreneurs shouldn’t bother hiring a designer, as they can always resort to an app.
Why Humans Are Needed in the Equation
Based on the given examples, it seems that some of the fears surrounding AI and ML are overblown. It’s true that most design software have features that allow nondesigners to create logos or even websites on their own. However, users without design know-how are still limited. That is the reason why app providers still offer freemium design services—care of human designers—like Canva, for example.
Besides, AI doesn’t have social intelligence, as Artefact cofounder Rob Girling notes in an opinion piece. AI takes things literally and has no empathy or humor, which relies on having real-world experiences. Most importantly, AI, realistically, can’t deal with indecisive clients. A human designer still needs to bridge that gap.
AI in Design: Conclusion
Making aesthetic decisions is a task that AI and ML models would take years to master. Even if they do, there’s no guarantee that they can operate unsupervised and deliver the same results that a designer can. And perhaps readers can all agree on this: A human element is always needed to capture hearts and minds.
Moreover, when programmed correctly, AI systems can automate menial tasks that could get in the way of real work, which allows designers to be the best at their jobs. After all, creatives—and any worker, for that matter—can do good work when they’re not preoccupied with inconsequential things.