Artificial Intelligence – Designers Friend or Foe?

Artificial Intelligence – Designers Friend or Foe?19 May 2015, Richard Smith

With a blaze of publicity and sizeable investment, The Grid has polarised opinion before it’s even launched. Over 40,000 have spent $4m to pre-purchase access to a tool that promises to build websites using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

‘Can Artificial Intelligence really create websites from content and instruction?’

‘Is this the beginning of the end for designers?’

‘Machines can’t replace human creativity!’

‘The code will be littered with bugs!’

Most arguments seem to sit at one extreme. The Grid (and AI) can change the world forever or it will never work.

It’s easy to be sucked into the debate without appreciating what is the real question. As The Grid say themselves, this is not a tool to dispense with designers. On the contrary. this can help designers make the most of the most valuable assets – their creativity and their time. This is not a battle between human and machine, designers against The Grid, this is a collaboration between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and human creativity, machine learning supporting designers and the design industry.

Designers should focus on perfecting their master vision and let AI take care of the tedious details” – The Grid

Consider this – the digital revolution has created a designer pinch point. We can live with and justify more digital assets that we are capable of producing. And the professionalism and impact of digital assets is constrained by the design resource and talent we have available, as well as the inevitable commercial constraints.

Think about Responsive Design. Would it be better designing from scratch for every canvas size and output? Of course! Is that practical or commercial? No, design resource is a premium and that’s how it should be. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t better solutions to increased matrices of canvas, device, browser or content form.

Artificial Intelligence can support designers to use their time and talent where they add the most value, and automate time consuming, even mundane tasks that either don’t justify their time or can’t commercially be viable.

Artificial Intelligence can support designers

The Grid has become a high profile flag bearer for this argument, but the use of content led design, artificial intelligence and layout through algorithms and rules has to be a valuable evolution to the designer toolkit – as templates and placeholders were once seen as both an addition to or compliment to the lack of infinite resource.

Templates have helped enable the digital revolution with the limited resource of design talent and creativity. And so, Artificial Intelligence will be.

Perhaps it’s in the marketing and the message. AI isn’t design by definition. But it can be an infinite amount of intelligent layouts, faced with the same rules and parameters that designers would face.

By providing the opportunity to automate the time consuming, potentially unlimited content optimisation across unlimited devices and variables, we can let designers do what they undoubtedly do best.

Kevin Beales – Director
Contented uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to drive content led layout and design.


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