Designers MUST embrace AI, or become redundant
The AI arms race is well and truly in full flow, and the working world as we know it has been thrown into question. One thing for is certain: we’ve only broken the surface, and Artificial Intelligence is about to become far more complex than we could ever imagine.
So, how important is this really?
The explosion of AI deep learning models such as ChatGPT, DALL-E 2 and Midjourney have taken the world by storm over the past few months. Having the ability to generate photorealistic images or write fully immersive product descriptions with just a few words has opened a world of infinite possibilities, even to the most inexperienced creatives. ChatGPT recently hit 100 million monthly users barely 2 months after launching — almost 5x quicker than TikTok managed after it’s release. Bill Gates himself believes the future of these technologies are to be as ‘every bit as important as the PC’ is to us. It’s a world we all believed to be science fiction. Yet, here it is, merely flashing the smallest spark of it’s vast potential.
Why are people worried?
The internet has been a polarising place recently. Some are very accepting and are excited by this technology can bring to the table. Others are extremely apprehensive, worried for their own futures and resenting it. Anyone interested in this ‘AI revolution’ who hasn’t felt both sides of this is lying to themselves. It is incredibly exciting that we are only breaking the surface of the possibilities, as many of these systems are in early development phases. With Microsoft investing $10bn in OpenAI and Google scrambling (and failing) internally to compete as, suddenly, a core business pillar is under threat of becoming outdated, it is clear that the potential possessed will change the modern world we’ve come to know.
It’s scary. Trust me. As someone with a career in UX and a multitude of hobbies within the creative and technology sectors, it is unsettling to think that such a unique job space could be under threat by AI. As I write this, somebody linked me to Galileo AI, a tool that generates user interfaces, effectively automating a core part of my job. Over the past few months, I’ve been able to generate astounding graphics, presentations and even write song structures using these technologies. YouTube is littered with videos demonstrating how to generate a business idea, write code and content for a webpage, and provide an advertising strategy so entrepreneurs can create and run a business solely through AI. It truly is incredible what has been possible with just a few months of exposure to these tools as they break into the mainstream.
But it can’t understand human emotion… can it?
Well, yes and no. Let’s state the obvious here: these programs are just lines of code. They have no ability to generate sentient opinions, thoughts and emotions. However, think about the ‘human side’ of art. The passion of a blossoming love depicted through intricate narration, or the sagas of a troubled painter as he unleashes despair onto the canvas. Truth be told, they can all be predicted given the right time and resources.
“How can it replicate human behaviours so accurately?” you might think. Well, the sources it learns from are written by us. Hundreds of billions of words, constructed into sentences by humans for it to learn and understand. Although we are such complex beings, we are extremely predictable once you boil down to it. All that a learning module must do is understand what is right and what is wrong for every scenario. The correct response and the incorrect. One or zero.
How far can this go?
It’s not just creative jobs that are under threat. ChatGPT has shown incredible ability to generate large sums of functioning code from a spread of programming languages. Other innovators have used it to develop products that could rival psychiatrists and lawyers — professions once seen as untouchable by machines when our understanding was limited to ‘manual labour’ robotics.
The truth is that this technology will change our world completely. The once distant fantasies of AI taking over the world are no longer science fiction. If you want to explore how far this can go, I suggest you look up ‘AGI’ (Artificial General Intelligence). That’s when we need to start getting worried about Skynet.
What can we do now?
We must embrace these advances in technology. The more we resent it and resist change, the more we are likely to fall behind. As I’ve mentioned already, we are barely scratching the surface of it’s potential. We are witnessing the birth of the AI age right now, together. As with every other technological revolution in human history, those who ignore and shun change will be left behind. I am absolutely certain that a failure to understand these technologies will be the downfall of many creatives. For every designer that fails to integrate AI into their workflow, 10 more will overtake them demanding less effort and fewer resources. Convenience is a golden ticket for humanity — almost everybody will choose a more efficient way to do anything in life.
Fortunately, we are at a point where we can use these technologies to assist us. Generating 1000 ideas of an image to draw, writing a plan for a novel, or creating the core structure website to develop it further. By using AI to our advantage, we will be able to save countless hours and advance ahead of the competition within our fields. We can get to know the potential they possess; refine our inputs to generate better quality outputs. It’s our time now to master the resources we’ve been given, and become forward thinkers to how we will adapt in the future.
Within the balance of excitement and fear, we are able to decide which path to choose. However, the end of that decision period is rapidly approaching. The relentless growth of AI is still accelerating at a speed humanity has never seen before. This year will be historical in the future of humanity.
It’s adapt now, or fall behind.