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Designers on the impact and prospects of artificial intelligence

By Amit Bapna | APAC editor-at-large

November 30, 2023 | 9 min read

The Drum caught up with a clutch of global design practitioners at the recent Kyoorius Design Yatra in Goa. They share their views on emerging trends around AI and its future impact on creativity.

'What's in store for the world of Design' at the Kyoorius Design Yatra, Goa

'What's in store for the world of design' at the Kyoorius Design Yatra, Goa

The 18th edition of the globally acclaimed Design Yatra – and also the first on-ground event after the pandemic – took place recently in Goa. This year’s overall theme was ‘Reset’ and brought the focus on designers harnessing the power of design across various touchpoints, in the new world order.

There were a bunch of speakers from across the globe who touched upon the various facets of design thinking including the future of design which will be about imagining a new way of doing, thinking and dreaming. It also included reiterating that good design is good for business, as well as the importance of working around the future of liveability and sustainable living. And finally, an acknowledgment that artificial intelligence has been around for a while and it’s not entirely a threat to the design business.

Here is what some design practitioners shared with The Drum about the future of AI in the design context.

Alan Dye, owner and creative director, NB

(NB is a leading London-based branding and communication studio.)

The impact of AI will be huge, the future is always closer than it appears, and the concerns are here and now.

Recently the British government held a conference at Bletchley Park (the UK’s historic place that broke the German enigma code during the Second World War). It was chaired by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and delegates included Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta and concluded with the richest man in the universe - an interview with Elon Musk. The world finally is taking AI seriously and so it should.

Apart from existential risks, disinformation, deep fakes, society risks, nuclear weapon scares and so much else, on how we can use AI creativity, as a design company we are already experimenting and it’s scaring us!

At the moment it’s a tool and when AI becomes the controller, we should all be scared. We should all slow it down a little until we can control it better.

Just like the Gutenberg press which revolutionized the written and printing world in the 15th Century AI is here and it’s going to change everything for everyone including the creative industries – I just hope it doesn’t take my job.

Maybe AI should take a lesson from Design Yatra and learn a little humanity - being kind to people goes a long way.

Yosuke Ushigome, creative technologist and lead interaction designer, Normally.

(Normally is a leading AI application and design firm based in London.)

The creative industry will experience increased productivity in tasks aimed at mechanically generating many variations. If we leave this in the hands of capitalist tendencies, this will certainly result in reduced job opportunities for junior roles.

The need of the hour is to urgently develop a shared understanding of the skills and knowledge we want to nurture in the age of AI, such as the way to estimate the true cost of using AI in the creative process, the ability to judge AI's outputs from moral and other humane points of view.

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Pau Garcia, founding partner, Domestic Data Streamers

(DDS is a Barcelona-based new media design firm.)

AI stands poised to disrupt the creative landscape in intriguing ways, catalyzing a paradigm shift from the nuts and bolts of production to the ethereal realms of conceptualization and narrative richness. The automation of mundane tasks will allow artists, designers, and creators to tunnel deeper into the ‘Why’ and the ‘What’, rather than being entangled in the ‘How’. The gravitas will shift from process to purpose, allowing us to grapple with questions that border on the philosophical.

However, just like the e-book couldn't extinguish the tactile charm of printed literature, AI won't fully erase the demand for artisanal craftsmanship. The space for the craft will morph into a highly competitive niche fueled by the human craving for authenticity and tangible connection. It will become the artisan's labor of love against the machine's sterile precision, each existing in symbiotic tension.

Design is a versatile tool with egalitarian potential. From the ergonomics of a refugee tent to the UI/UX of a mental health app, design penetrates every stratum of society. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about problem-solving. When it comes to systemic issues like social inequality or climate change, design is both culprit and cure. The challenge lies in introspection, acknowledging the inherent power design has in shaping behaviors and cultures, and redirecting that power toward equitable and sustainable solutions.

Vatsal Chaoji, head of product design, Zee Entertainment

(Zee is a leading Indian entertainment company based in Mumbai.)

Computing has already made the world a better place, and the next generation of computing (AI), will continue to contribute to a brighter future for ourselves and our future generations. AI has the potential to streamline our mundane repetitive tasks, which makes our work more efficient but also frees up our time for more creative endeavors. The creative industry will surely benefit and will be some of the early adopter industries of AI. It helps widen a creative individual’s perspective and horizon apart from acting as a catalyst of our creative ideas, like a sparring partner.

In the OTT space, we are currently leveraging AI to curate personalized recommendations on our platform for users based on their history, preferences, and behaviors. This capability also extends to search. Usually, users are not empowered to search for a specific type of scene or an actor's compilation, for example, 'Amol Palekar (a famous Bollywood actor) Comedy scenes,' or find content based on their moods.

However, with AI, we are able to accomplish all of that and more. We are also exploring the integration of AI into our content creation pipelines to assist our creators. AI is also deployed to analyze platform performance and usage data, extracting insights to help us make more data-informed decisions to improve our platform experience. Additionally, we are investigating the use of AI for enriching our metadata, subtitling, and dubbing to improve the discoverability of content on our platforms

The key challenges in working with AI are fairness, bias and underlying copyright issues. Collaboration between humans and AI is key, along with ethical considerations and the need for regulation.

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