AI in Design Processes

The future of automation in Design

Catarina Acúrcio
Nov 10, 2017 · 5 min read

As designers, we can look around and find examples of Artificial Intelligence becoming part of the design process almost everywhere. The rise of Artificial Intelligence is no longer confined to the realm of developers and data scientists.

Well, things will change whether we change or not and so the real existential challenge is how can we benefit from AI as a professional? How could we become more empowered with the rise of AI in design?

Instead of criticizing and being afraid, we can start by truly comprehend our future role as designers and how AI systems can amplify our ability to be creative and to explore new ways of working with technology. In this new paradigm, designers will probably control the logic behind AI systems to create and compile multiple design solutions based on predefined principles and patterns of content, context, and user data over shorter periods of time.

Accenture’s research, on the impact of AI on 12 developed economies, revealed that artificial intelligence could double annual economic growth rates in 2035 by creating a new relationship between humans and machines. This research also predicts an increase in labor productivity up to 40%, allowing people to use their time more efficiently.

AI has the potential to help designers:

1. Automate design processes

Today we are facing another boost, where we could automate some routine and mechanical tasks through Artificial Intelligence and focus on higher level design thinking.

2. Handle big amounts of data

“We’re always looking for smart ways to learn more in less time.” - Matt Cooper-Wright, Senior Design Lead at IDEO

AI systems have the ability to analyze, process and organize data, thus foster a more fruitful collaboration by making it accessible to people who do not have technical background at all. Also, it works 24/7 and faster so it’s an excellent acquisition to a team, for sure.

3. Improve customer experience

It’s even possible to adjust behaviour in real time, which means that whenever conditions change, the system will learn and change as well.

Automated information processing can assist in design decisions and after some training, it can make new associations and suggest new trends, hypotheses and richer findings.

Let’s take a look at some experiments:

Font Map

Font Map uses Artificial Intelligence to surface new relationships across fonts. Kevin Ho - Organizing the World of Fonts with AI (medium article)

Adobe Sensei

Abhay Parasnis, speaking at Adobe MAX 2017 about Adobe Sensei

As described by Adobe, Sensei is the technology that powers intelligent features across all Adobe products to dramatically improve the design and delivery of digital experiences, using artificial intelligence and machine learning in a common framework.

David Nuescheler shares a glimpse at several unreleased developments for Photoshop and Adobe XD which harness the power of Sensei.

Cloak is content-aware-fill for video, and powered by Adobe Sensei. It enables removing unwanted things from a video by imagining what would appear if these unwanted things were removed.

Scene Stitch, powered by Adobe Sensei, is used to fill large holes in images by querying a database of images and automatically finding content to fill the hole.



You can also check the AI Experiments - Experiments with Google, a showcase with several experiments to explore.

This year’s Web Summit in Lisbon started with an unexpected guest, Stephen Hawking. Hawking talked about the potential reality of AI, the pros and cons, in which he said, ”I am an optimist and I believe that we can create AI for the good of the world. That it can work in harmony with us. We simply need to be aware of the dangers, identify them, employ the best possible practice and management, and prepare for its consequences well in advance”.

Stephen Hawking at Web Summit 2017

“You all have the potential to push the boundaries of what is accepted, or expected, and to think big. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious place to be, and you are the pioneers”, he said.

Despite some concerns and warnings, the main message of Hawking’s speech was optimistic.

Also Paddy Cosgrave, the entrepreneurial mind behind the world’s largest technology summit, highlighted Artificial Intelligence as the hot topic in this year’s edition and is even considering, at an upcoming Web Summit, to create a stage exclusively dedicated to AI.

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us” — John Culkin, 18 March 1967

This new tool can help us improve our skills and perhaps if we work side by side with technology and embrace new challenges, we may be surprised by new opportunities that will shape our future as designers.

As Matt Cooper-Wright pointed out in the UX at Scale 2017 webinar, hosted by UXPin, about an IDEO case study, it’s all about changing our mindset sometimes and when we hit a problem, well, what tool can we build to help?, Thumbs up!

Further reading…