The robots have been coming for us since ages. In movies they usually skip first base and directly go for world domination. In reality they’re taking our jobs first. I can’t wait to be obsolete, so I dug into design work that has already been replaced by artificial intelligence. And then I asked an AI to write this blog. See what happened…

AI is “a machine that can act using human-style reasoning or perception.” Experts suggest that as much as 40% of jobs could be replaced by AI within 15 years. That’s no small percentage. Entire industries will look like I Am Legend by 2030!

Design tasks are already being replaced by AI

So what about design? These are just a few examples from the virtually endless pile of AI-powered design tools on Product Hunt:
enhance.io boosts photos to pro-level quality in a way many photoshoppers can’t.
Avocode turns Adobe CC files into code so that designers don’t need to know that stuff anymore.
This Shirt Company Does Not Exist sells t-shirts designed by AI. On a website made by AI.
Logopony creates beautiful logo’s based on AI.

I asked AI to write this blog.

So could I let AI replace me and carry on with this blog? I tried: I fed the beginning of this blog to an AI called GPT-2.  And the results were, well, confusing.

So how did this happen? A blog post on the OpenAI site explains how it works. It’s a model which has learned patterns and relations formed by English words across the web. ‘When a sentence is input to the software, it basically generates a sequence of words each of which is highly probable given the words that have been typed in.’ And the more common the topic, the better it can do this. It’s even aware of things like style or topic transfer across various domains. Wow.

I decided to try this with some shorter statements about design. My statements are in bold, the AI-generated text in regular type:

Dieter Rams is the world’s greatest designer.

But also you have to read his interviews. You have to listen to his podcast. You have to read his books.I don’t know why I don’t do that.
For two years, the Bay Area native designed and built a rich, diverse private community at the edge of the green belt and Las Vegas Strip.

“I am fascinated by what happens when urban planning and design work together,” Rams said. “This area has become a master-planned, innovation-rich environment. We are becoming better in a lot of ways by putting the human element back in what was once a repetitive process.”

Wow I’ve learned something: Dieter Rams has a podcast! But really: not exactly coherent, nor correct. Let’s try again:

Career choices every designer will face at some point: become a Specialist or a generalist?

A Specialist is a strong user of color and size; they like to play with design tools, and they’re typically more concerned with precision than fun. They thrive with flat shapes, quick layering, and detail.

Generalists are not afraid to experiment with color and texture, but they tend to leave more finished and polished work behind. They tend to look for solid shapes and lots of contrast.

It is fair to take a Specialist/Generalist distinction to extremes.

I do agree that, at least as an excercise for making a decision, the distinction between specialist and generalist might be taken to extremes. But… meh, I don’t think I can publish this as a blog.

Designers say they like structured plans because it frames their creativity and allows them to dig deeper.

However, it’s a lot harder to stay away from rules when you are waiting for your grid, since it is a standard for every project.  Personally, I only rarely go back and revisit the grid I designed. I wish there was a generic grid for every product that’s coming out.

No matter what the layout or type of project is, there’s an advantage to having your full plan at hand. Having your plans running smoothly and with confidence could make the difference between a successful project and a failed one.  What’s more, you can instantly present your new design with confidence. So make sure you plan for it.

Once again: great effort, I’m amazed by what it did create here. A slightly incoherent person could have written this!

What to make of this AI-try, for designers?

I asked AI to write my blog. And it said No. At least I think that’s what it said.
I bet that a bunch of the more basic, repetitive design jobs will become obsolete sooner than later – because of AI, amazing templates etc. But artificial intelligence will mainly create space for designers to get really creative and strategic – with the help of all kinds of tools. The AI I used was mainly great fun. I dare you to try it! I’d love to see what OpenAI’s GPT-2 generates for you. Head to Talk to Transformer, type in a sentence or two, and share the output in the comments.

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