This article contains no clever insights into AI, nor a big angry rant against it.
I’m not going to lie, the recent rapid development in artificial intelligence scares me. Not so much for myself, as a threat to my profession as a designer, a copywriter, a creative. But because I genuinely believe that tools shape design, meaning that our design, and ultimately taste, is influenced by the tools we have at our disposal.
So what happens to our taste when AI generates our website copy, our CVs, our Instagram captions? When it designs our profile pictures, our event posters and children’s books?
AI merges a vast vat of information to generate something new, so if every piece of content is built up from the same pot, the same shared input and language prompts, what happens to culture differences, local colouring, and colloquial narratives? It has always been of great importance to us as creatives to listen to different voices, perspectives, and narratives. To try and take inspiration not just from other designers, but from patterns we see in nature, colour combinations in someone's outfit, or that well-written sentence in a poem. With AI being able to amalgamate vast amounts of information and find "an average solution", what happens to the outliers, the whispers, the unusual? Will this mean the end of the strange, the weird, the unreasonable?
And more so, will it increase the cultural bias in visuals even more? Will it reinforce existing gender norms and other stereotypes? If all creative (written, graphics, video) is made from something that already exists, will there be things that are genuinely NEW - or will they feel comfortably familiar? Will that familiarity and recognisability (conscious or subconscious) build yet more difficulties in challenging the status quo?
“You just need to learn good prompting, learn to be specific, it's just a tool” you might say. And there definitely is some truth in that. It's a tool for us as designers, a huge timesaver and it can generate beautiful ideas - and fast.
But, my overall concern remains - as a society, will our tastes and expectations not be shaped by those averages, those clichés and assumptions that we will see and read everywhere?
And here is what Chat GPT had to say about all this…
Me: ChatGTP, as an AI, what do you think about the following article?:
ChatGPT: The article you've drafted for your blog thoughtfully articulates the concerns and questions that many creatives share regarding the impact of AI on design and culture. Here are some thoughts on the points you've raised:
Tool Influence on Design and Taste: You're correct that tools have historically shaped design. The printing press, photography, and digital software have all influenced aesthetics and accessibility. AI is the next step in this evolution, and it's natural to wonder how it will mold our collective tastes.
Homogenization of Culture: Your concern about AI potentially leading to a homogenization of culture is valid. If AI systems are trained on a narrow set of data, they could indeed perpetuate a limited set of ideas. However, AI can also be a tool for preserving and promoting cultural diversity if trained on a broad and inclusive dataset.
Inspiration and Creativity: The fear that AI might diminish the value of human inspiration and the serendipity of creativity is a common one. Yet, AI could also be seen as another source of inspiration, a collaborator that brings its own 'unusual' to the table by combining vast amounts of data in novel ways.
Outliers and Innovation: You raise an important point about outliers. AI tends to optimise for the 'average' solution because it's trained to predict based on the most common patterns. This could indeed sideline the unconventional unless AI is deliberately programmed to recognise and value the atypical.
Cultural Bias and Stereotypes: The reinforcement of biases is a significant risk with AI. It's crucial for AI developers and users to be aware of this and work actively to counteract it by using diverse training data and constantly checking the output for biases.
Genuinely New vs. Familiar: This is a profound question. AI can remix existing ideas in new ways, which can feel both familiar and novel. Whether something is genuinely new or just a recombination of the old is a debate that predates AI, but AI certainly adds a new dimension to this discussion.
AI as a Tool: Finally, your acknowledgment that AI is a tool, and like any tool, its value depends on how it's used, is a balanced view. AI can indeed be a timesaver and an idea generator, but it's up to the human user to direct its use towards innovative and culturally sensitive outcomes.
Your article opens up a nuanced conversation about the role of AI in creative fields. It doesn't dismiss AI's potential but encourages a critical examination of its impact on society and culture. This kind of dialogue is essential as we navigate the integration of AI into creative professions.
So the challenge is an obvious one - to make sure that we assume the responsibility that the use, and even mere existence, of AI technology brings with it. To be aware of stereotypes and biases, to learn to use it in a balanced, healthy, and futureproof way. It's not going to be easy, and like everything that relies on people taking ownership and being responsible with a powerful weapon - there are huge risks for abuse.