Artificial Intelligence – BETA than the real thing?
I recently downloaded an App onto my phone; ostensibly, it allows you to create mini masterpieces based around any outlandish idea that one can conjure up in one’s noggin. Just type the idea into a field, click go and, seconds later, you’re rewarded with a startling image of whatever imaginative cocktail of curiosities you’re able to mind-meld together. For example, I input: ‘Larry David fights crab’. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know. But this type of free-form thinking does occasionally help in my work – I’m a creative designer for a leading construction marketing and PR agency. Anyway, the result is the image above and I think that one can agree, the App delivered on what I requested.
This is a free App; I assume that it works by latching onto keywords in your request, tossing them into a search engine spin dryer and throwing the surreal and often nightmarish image back at you in all its messed-up glory. So, we’re not talking the pinnacle of AI wonderment here, merely another fun distraction to help one while away the evenings.
Should we be concerned?
However, in the wider world, there appears to be a creeping dread that accompanies fast-increasing developments in AI technology. Are we really at the eve of ‘The Rise of the Machines’? Will we need to rely on the deployment of brooding, raincoated, gumshoe Harrison Fords to retire antsy robots that have developed the ability to get far too big for their robot boots? Should we be concerned that HAL 9000 will simply refuse to open the pod bay doors?
More pertinent than that, should we be worried about our jobs? Are we at risk of making ourselves redundant whilst developing artificial intelligence to such a degree that it will be able to carry out our work just as well as we can (or even better) for neglible financial cost?
In the creative industries, we’re witnessing these developments. For example, what I’m writing now can be written by robots; the robots wouldn’t have issues with grammar, punctuation, syntax. A perfectly generated piece of writing would be delivered which anyone reading wouldn’t bat an eyelid at; for all intense and purposes, at least on the surface, it could’ve been written by a human.
As a graphic designer and illustrator, should I be concerned that my services will quickly become redundant? Illustration is certainly taking off in the world of AI, with Instagram pages dedicated exclusively to machine-aided artworks that deserve more than a cursory swipe. The initial ‘hand problem’ that made certain appendages resemble multi-digited root vegetables dreamt up in a Cronenberg-esque hellscape in some of these illustrations, appears to have been rectified and, although the AI creations still possess their own unique and occasionally unsettling feel, they are on the whole, rather impressive.
Should we embrace AI?
I think the technology can be, and should be, embraced. Let’s face it, it’s happening and it isn’t going away so, resistance is futile. I believe there is a way that professionals like myself can climb into the metaphorical bed with our robot counterparts, embrace and work through our differences, realising that perhaps we aren’t that different after all.
Adobe has recently unveiled BETA versions of its most popular software that use the power of AI for good. ‘Generative Fill’ in Photoshop, for example, allows you to add objects into an image by selecting an area, typing into a field the desired object and, after a few moments, the object is in your image. For example, Larry’s dramatic crustation tussle could be further enhanced by the inclusion of some cranes, high-rise buildings and hard-hatted individuals on the horizon (working for clients in the construction industry, I’m sure this concept could be successfully rolled out for one of our more ‘far-out’ clients).
Meanwhile, Illustrator’s BETA version introduces an AI integration called ‘Generative Recolour tool’. This allows you to quickly update the colours of a project by allowing the tool to select a colour scheme based around keywords you type in yourself. If you want a logo design to look ‘60’s cool’ then this feature offers up the designer a collection of hues that almost immediately adds a retro groove to your creation.
Both these features aren’t taking away our creative freedoms, more aiding us in the creative process. We’re still coming up with the ideas, using our skills and imagination to dream up original and inspiring concepts. We’re just being helped with the legwork; the often-arduous tasks that take up a lot of our time – time better spent on our very human creative genius.
And that, as Larry would say, is: ‘Pu-retty, Pu-retty. Pu-retty good.’