AI to Designers; More Than a Blessing

By Charles Njoku, Product Designer

Miklos Philip’s Toptal AI Design Article:  ‘The Present and Future of AI in Design’ - 2018
Miklos Philip’s Toptal AI Design Article:  ‘The Present and Future of AI in Design’ – 2018

I actually had an epiphany about this topic while I was having my bath, you might as well not take me seriously. And yeah, I used to be certain that AI will put designers out of the market. 

AI (artificial intelligence) has become an over-hyped buzzword across many industries, and the design world is no exception. Wikipedia defined Artificial intelligence (AI) as intelligence exhibited by machines, like literally. Think about it! It has many applications in today’s society with its most common usage in medical diagnosis, electronic trading platforms, robot control, and remote sensing. More importantly, AI has shown us a path to how information can be aggregated, to a point where machines can mimic almost any intuitive decision that comes naturally to humans ( or mammals). On the other hand, we also have Internet-of-Things (IoT)—electronic devices communicating seamlessly with each other in a similar manner as in human communication.

How does any of these help designers build better identities?

Designers empathize with user-goals and objectives to solve their problems. Often times, designers are caught in the tussle of figuring out how to match them with business or social impact goals. This makes designers fall back to user research and analysis to find patterns that provide insight into what users might want or need. Sometimes,  I read design case studies on Medium and other platforms and I am shocked at the user research pool. For a product that is going to be used, or at least you hope it will be used by millions of people, your user test sample is just 10 people? All of whom are your friends or people you know?

This app has 10million+ downloads, only a 7-person was used to redesign it though!

Seeing that the enormous amount of interconnected devices allow for huge chunks of data to be shared amongst users (IoT enabled), we can implement AI algorithms to help aggregate them into user data models that can help inform us on user needs and wants. So the question worth asking is ‘How can designers leverage AI to help them make better human-centered design decisions backed with data (big data maybe)?’

New brands spring up every day and old ones rebrand themselves, putting designers in the loop of getting brand identities that are ever-evolving with people, trends, and technologies. With AI, designers have a pool of available data to help build intuitive solutions for new brands and also use the same to rebrand legacy brands with better identities. Designers working with AI can create designs faster and cheaply due to the increased speed and efficiency it offers. The power of AI will lie in the speed in which it can analyze vast amounts of data and suggest design adjustments. 

Designers must now value the importance of collaboration; Machine-and-Designer!

Before now, the issue was over the inability of designers across fields to collaborate effectively, today designers are faced with an even more daunting task; collaborating with machines to co-create solutions. Designers need not worry. AI and robots will not replace us—at least not in the short term. Instead of being a threat, augmented intelligence will present a series of exciting opportunities.

Leveraging those design opportunities is not going to happen by magic, but with designers co-creating with AI as our job sits in the cross hairs of art, science, engineering, and design. Technology in the past made us stronger and faster. AI will make us smarter. We just need to wait a little longer…

PS: I am no AI expert, I pretty much know nothing about AI & Design but this is just my two cents!

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