In the past few years, the power of technology to help us adapt to change and keep us connected has never been more evident. The pandemic, in particular, was a catalyst for social and economic change that encouraged us to reassess the status quo and transform the way we work. A hot topic which has been dominating the technology agenda post-pandemic has been artificial intelligence - is it a friend or foe, a tool for efficiency or from the lens of a designer, their judgment day manifested into a neat little search bar?
One of the anxieties surrounding the meteoric rise of free AI technology is the potential displacement of visual designers and image makers. Within the field of design, the arrival of image generators such as Dall.E OpenAI, Midjourney, and the newly introduced AI image-expansion tool in Photoshop has understandably raised concerns. Sophisticated enough to generate imagery through prompts and able to mimic the style of everything from Old Masters’ paintings, to company logos, could these free tools render graphic designers redundant?
It is crucial to address these concerns with a balanced perspective. While AI-powered tools have undoubtedly revolutionised aspects of design and streamlined processes such as brainstorming and ideation, the role of human designers remains essential. These tools serve as aids to amplify designers' capabilities, and improve efficiency, rather than outright replacements. Designers bring artistic vision, intuition, and insight on human emotions to the work they produce. The understanding of nuance, and the cognitive biases within how people think and make decisions is a uniquely human skill, which is paramount in producing imagery that resonates with audiences on a deeper level.
Moreover, the reliance on AI-generated designs raises concerns about originality and the homogenisation of visual content. The danger lies in the dependence on AI algorithms, which sift through pre-existing imagery on the internet to generate results, which in the case of relying solely on AI generators to produce content such as logos and branding, could infringe upon intellectual property rights or perpetuate plagiarism.
AI technology offers immense potential to increase efficiency and expand the creative horizons of designers, however, proper implementation of AI within a design workflow is a steep learning curve that is not without its challenges. Through learning the best practices of using tools such as Dall.E, and Photoshop AI, while recognising their intricacies and limitations as glorified search engines, designers can leverage the potential of these tools within their work. Artificial Intelligence is a rapidly evolving field, and designers need to embrace the importance of continuous learning. They should be open to learning about new techniques, algorithms, and tools as they emerge. By investing time and effort in these areas, designers can use AI as the revolutionary tool it was designed to be, rather than view it as a malignant force.