Will creativity clash with artificial intelligence?

This article wasn’t planned at all. I have just woken up, and I’m sitting in the lounge room sipping the coffee my girlfriend left me before going to work. It’s 7.45am and I’m a little drowsy from a few late nights in a row, such as last night after attending an AI (artificial intelligence) event in Berlin.

Last nights event was an interesting one. Although obviously very tech and developer focused, it was really cool to see the direction that AI is going and how fast it is getting there. What caught my attention the most was the image recognition capabilities of a new app created by photography start up EyeEm. The app is called The Roll, and it automatically organises, tags and groups each photo on your iphone by type and quality. This allows you to simply type in a keyword about the kind of photo you wish to see or share, and The Roll will present to you the best, most relevant photos you have. Very cool!

Photo — Gez Xavier Mansfield

But, if AI can sort through and rank photos like this, is it also possible to recognise, sort and rank anything? Would it be possible to enter designs into a system that scores according to the public preferences it has learnt over time, thus giving creators the option to only produce products that are likely to be of greatest popularity? Perhaps musicians could begin recording music that is judged in the same way, or gymnasts will be judged by algorithms on the technical accuracy of their acrobatics. Hmmm, this is a worrying thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I would like to see advancements in AI. But I would like to see it in the realms of healthcare and environmental preservation. And I know I’m not alone in my hope for this. I was recently told that an algorithm created in the UK is learning how to analyse masses in peoples bodies and provide a much quicker diagnosis of cancer. Amazing! Perhaps it’s possible for algorithms to predict environmental impacts of manufacturing a product, but during the design phase, allowing for more efficient creation of eco-products. Awesome!

Photo — Lifelike Creations

Advancements in AI could, as we know, bring a lot of good to the world. But from a design perspective, we need to be careful not to lose touch with our own perceptions of what’s good and what’s not. Taste is a personal thing, and the one thing that drives creativity and expression. Our individual tastes provide the world with a massive amount of diverse cultures and sub-cultures, and allows us to push creativity into the unknown.

So, as you see advancement in technology like this, always be sure to step back and form your own opinion, be true to your personal preference and allow yourself to move away from the expectations of an algorithm.