Just a few days ago, I read an article on TNW about an AI-based logo designer. TL;DR: The developer is both praised and criticized because his machine always produces generic content. But before I get into graphic design, I just want to state some obvious facts:
Everyone's talking about AI these days. There is a gigantic surge in this term's popularity. You can find marketers promoting products based on AI pretty much anywhere on the internet. Just by mentioning something is based on ML will drive people into thinking, "Well, product X must be very good!"
A recent survey conducted in Serbia throughout July 2017 shows that more than 75% of programmers want to master Python as their next language. There's not a single person asking why, because the answer is obvious. Ever since AlphaGo's success against Lee Sedol, everyone's been focusing more and more on machine learning. Everybody has huge admiration for ML, and that's no wonder.
Nowadays, with humanity coming closer and closer to self-driving cars (I personally marvel at Sentdex's GTA 5 version), we've been shown that the "flying cars" kind of future isn't that far. But I'm here to talk about the limitations of modern AI and when and how it will put designers out of a job.
What AI Can Do
Neural networks have advanced a lot over the last few years. As complex networks of nodes, NNs can be used to output some decent images. The more objective the output is, the better they perform.
But web design is another story. Because it relies on a person's perception of the output, it's quite a messy job for machines. You've surely seen at least one AI-based website builder recently, and as many as there may be, the end result will always be judged differently, depending on the human.
The one advantage in our hands is that we human website designers completely understand the fact that everyone's taste differs.
Although humans won't be replaced anytime soon, that doesn't mean machine learning is of no use to web designers. Most use various AI-based online tools for their work, and Google is the very first one on the list!
Automatic Website Builders
Website builders are probably some of the most helpful methods of stitching together several pieces of a puzzle. A few startups have already prototyped automated web design tools. With Wix ADI and Grid both claiming to use AI to build websites from scratch, the future is prominent. Grid is more similar to a “let’s get your WordPress site set up” wizard then it is a true AI, and Wix ADI is perfect for a snazzy custom CMS that can set itself up.
Although none of these two tools are perfect for continuous use, you get the idea of a productivity boost going on here. Using AI for the mockup of a website saves time. You're free to focus on other things, like tweaking widgets and making sure everything works in the backend department.
Offloading Delegated Tasks
Have you ever thought about the times when you clicked "search" without typing anything, and the website giving you some "random" results? Well, Zeqr, for one, has an "intelligent" tool (I've had the opportunity to discuss this with a data scientist who's active on Zeqr) that dynamically calculates the best classes based on your interests, after which it dynamically shuffles some of the best classes it has in store.
Vox’s website does it in a similar way, just with the articles on the homepage.
It's here that the web designers and the AI merge their knowledge to present dynamic content to the viewers. It's people who are in charge of selling online classes, shoot good cover photos for articles, and even Photoshopping them. As technology progresses, there's no doubt in my mind that we will see more and more of these design decisions offloaded to machines.
They Just Wanna Help
It's not likely that AI will beat humans at their own game (at all). Instead, I'm honestly expecting an uprise of partially automated design, which we're quite familiar with already (i.e. pre-built WordPress themes). Designers will surely continue to utilize AI advances in other fields to achieve the best website layout, but whether or not they'll use a neural network to analyze their layouts or find content, images, and other information faster will be entirely up to them.
If anything, human creativity will never be replaced by a single machine. With the help of website builders and other tools, people can design websites that could easily beat those made by machines.
Don’t hesitate to take advantage of the technology and all the benefits it has to offer, and then focus on imagination.
All in all, as we get better at working with technology, we’ll see both productivity increases and new avenues for cooperation with both AI and traditional programs, enabling designers to focus more on design and less on the nitty gritty technical work.
Hope you've enjoyed reading my very first article on DZone!