The Rise of AI in Design: A Deja Vu of the ‘90s Computer Boom?
We’ve witnessed new technology reshape the landscape of our industry more than once. Few innovations have been as impactful as the emergence of computers in the 1990s, a time of rapid transformation. Today, we witness the rise of another important piece of technology, artificial intelligence. With all significant shifts, there’s an inherent resistance to the new technology. The arrival of AI to our world shares a striking resemblance to the invasion of computers.
The ‘90s: More than Flannel and Grunge
When the personal computer began making its way into every office, home, and university in the country, we were promised a world where design would be cleaner, projects could be completed faster, and communication could be instantaneous. There were always naysayers, some more powerful than others. Famously, Robert Metcalfe (the inventor of Ethernet) wrote an article for Infoworld in December of 1995 in which he predicted, “the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse”. Metcalfe may have been wrong about the internet in 1996 but in the following years, more naysayers would challenge the technology. They believed that the technology would dilute the essence of creativity, making designs look sterile and generic. Yet, the opposite happened. Computers enhanced our capabilities, provided innovative tools, and opened up a new world for creating strategic, beautiful design.
Lessons from History
Innovation is not a zero-sum game. When the computer was introduced to the world for mass consumption, it created value that benefitted more than it caused harm or loss. Tools, whether personal computers or advanced AI algorithms, are just that — tools. They support our creativity rather than suppress it. Naysayers have always existed at the cusp of major technological shifts. Their concerns often stem from a place of uncertainty. We realize there are concerns about the rapid advancement of AI and its potential societal impacts. But when it comes to human creativity, we’re confident that its essence will always remain uniquely human.
Embracing the Future
“Great design will always come from a strategic, creative idea. Anyone with ten dollars can use a program like Dall-E to make artwork, but smart design thinking will continue to pave the way to successful design, with AI and any other appropriate tools helping to produce the best result.” – Katie Daniels, Owner and Creative Director, McKenna Daniels Design
Business and Marketing, McKenna Daniels Design