AI (artificial intelligence) has become a buzzword that is as exciting as it is terrifying. How will it affect us in the design world? Will we be replaced by robots?

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty expressed that “If I considered the initials AI, I would have preferred augmented intelligence.” Augmented intelligence is a design pattern for a human-centered partnership model of people and artificial intelligence (AI) working together to enhance cognitive performance, including learning, decision making and new experiences. AI will enhance the speed at which designers can create designs, therefore making the process cheaper due to increased speed and efficiency.

But will AI become a wedge between designers and creativity? Design programmes are starting to use AI extensively. They can magically complete a missing part of an image, delete unwanted backgrounds, use auto colour etc. Adobe, Google, Apple, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter among others rely on AI to make their products easier to use. However, AI will always be searching for data to make the reach with consumers deeper, to make the product better, and to make the provider more valuable and this could come at a cost. AI not only affects outcomes, it also shapes decisions regarding inputs. Will AI eventually be relied upon to shape and create the work product?

When Frost works with a client we look to find as much information about them as possible; their needs, likes/dislikes, the outcome they desire. We then provide concepts, refinements, testing etc. Where current AI technology is a great fit for the first parts of this process, it can only rely on what it learns and it only learns from the information it is given and typically the people who input this information will not be designers. AI is affecting every industry and design software is not left out. Adobe  and similar companies are promising that AI will create shortcuts from design to market success but designers use creativity, good artwork and good design in their work, so will the new tools create valid shortcuts in the creative process or will they hinder what would be a natural progression. Will designs of the future loose their uniqueness?

New Territory design and creative technology director, Tim Smith comments “Almost all challenges we face as designers require a very sympathetic human ear to understand and solve a human problem. The challenge is always both functional and emotional in nature. For now, I don’t believe AI can better our emotional design intelligence, but AI is vitally important in supporting us in the functional area of design. Though, that might become an out-of-date opinion very quickly.”

“AI won’t replace designers but will allow them more time to focus on design by taking care of repetitive tasks such as layout and typography,” said Manu Joseph, owner/CEO at Graphicon Design Studio.

It will be used to make design faster without sacrificing quality or creativity (if done correctly). “The idea is not just speeding up the process but improving its quality by bringing in more human elements into it—such as colour choices or aesthetics—while keeping machine-based processes in place,” said Jim Coudal, CEO at Coudal Partners.

Designers are using AI to create images of people, animals and landscapes and, in fact, an AI generated piece has recently won an award in Fine Art. However, AI is not a substitute for human creativity but it can assist with time consuming and repetitive tasks.

While we don’t know what the future holds we can be sure that AI will have a major part in it and in design. Therefore we should all keep abreast with the latest trends and try to embrace them to our advantage.