A comment on “Artificial Intelligence as a New Design Material”

After reading Holmquist’s cover story, here is what I envisioned for AI as a new design material:

Imagine a graphic designer opening his or her virtual workspace (some suite of software tools). When picking a particular color for a design, (s)he immediately sees real-time statistics from a backend AI solution. This AI solution is parsing data from all over the world to provide information such as the popularity of this color amongst customers, examples of how this color has been used by other designers, and even suggestions for making the overall design better. When the designer is fatigued or hits a “designer’s block,” the AI solution can even provide a versatile set of building blocks (designs and colors) to get the designer started. When the designer is inspired and doesn’t need any help, the AI solution can be de-activated quickly without hassle. In its entirety, using this AI solution would be as natural as visit a website on the internet today.

Overall, this reading covers a lot of important points in a few short pages. The first important point is that Tech giants have accumulated tremendous amounts of digital data, and these data repositories continue to grow. The second important point is that in the near future AI will transform into a digital service that is commonplace, easy to understand, and ingrained in our daily lives. The third important point which I interpret more as a warning is that the decisions made by AI are difficult to understand because it is a “black box” technology that evolves in real-time.

In terms of Design Thinking, how do these three important points connect? Simply put, AI will completely transform how designers work. Whether this transformation is good or bad depends entirely on the rules we create as a society for the use of AI.

Milan Bhatia

3 thoughts on “A comment on “Artificial Intelligence as a New Design Material”

  1. Hi Milan,

    I like your post about AI and the implications it could be used for, however I would like to point out that AI could also have negative impacts on society if we rely on them too much. If, for your example, we rely on AI to help us choose colors and help design items, then eventually the machine will take over completely, or at least enough so the human designer wouldn’t be able to design without the AI.

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  2. I think I agree more with Milan than Kirk, that eventually designers wont be able to function without computers, I mean I think that will sometimes be the case, but in the end there is so much emotion with the way people perceive objects that even with advanced AI I don’t think a machine could totally consider everything that a human does. I do think there are negative impacts though such as right now design is a very group oriented field but I could very much see people just working from home and using their computers to design projects and go through user testing without talking to anyone else. And that Idea scares me. I think it is important to remember that we are designing for people, not machines so no matter how efficient we think we are being, humans will always have more insight to our society as long as we continue collaborating. I don’t want our people to feel like they need to isolate themselves to be more efficient. That just doesn’t seem healthy.

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  3. I see your future for AI and design to be very plausible. The system you describe would be both useful, and within the realm of possibility for machine learning algorithms. The concept is not far off from A/B testing, just a bit more automated. However, although I think that we will have tools of this type very soon, I think that they are dangerous when not regulated. For example, if many designers adopt such tools, and the algorithm that decides popular colors takes into account existing products’ colors, the algorithm could cause a feedback loop. If many designers listen to an algorithm telling them to choose red, and sales increase, then the algorithm will learn that red is good and will continue to recommend it. For this reason, a smart human designer will be needed for a final judgement call.

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