Can DALL-E and AI systems replace humans in creative tasks?

27 Sep 2022

3 min read

AI, it's everywhere. Whether it's Alexa playing the song we asked for, Google Assistant guiding us through a recipe we'd like to try, or Siri giving us directions when we're lost, it looks almost impossible to live without AI systems. And whilst many foresee a future where machines will take over our lives and turn us completely dependent on them, others believe some sectors may never be affected by this change. Is it really so, though?

The creative industries have always heavily relied on humans' improvisation and problem-solving attitude. This latter comes from our natural ability to resolve difficult situations in original, unconventional ways.

However, it seems this status quo has been recently challenged, particularly regarding image generation. As designers, we all know too well how tricky this process can be at times. It's all about finding the right picture, blurring the background, retouching one element, cropping another out, and so on until we get the perfect outcome. It's not just a matter of technical abilities, which are surely essential, but also something related to one's intelligence, judgement, and thought process. Something we've always believed only the human brain could deal with. Until AI systems like DALL-E, Artbreeder, and Midjourney made their appearance.

An AI-generated "Avocat"

These programs are capable of generating images based on text descriptions coming from a dataset of text-image pairs, which means that if you're trying to create an "Avocat", all you need to do is type “a cat in the shape of an avocado", and that's it. The AI will give you a picture of an "Avocat".

As you may imagine, the results are varied and can use all sorts of word combinations as long as they're in the dataset. From mixing unrelated concepts to transforming existing images, these pioneering AI systems seem to be the ultimate tool to make creatives' lives easy... or are they?

Professionals seem to have mixed feelings about this. As DALL-E, Midjourney and other AI systems can be used in traditional graphic design, architecture, and product design, some look at them as a source of inspiration to fuel creativity and broaden perspectives. However, others feel challenged and consider them the nth attempt to replace humans with machines. They think that, unless the AI will start truly thinking for itself, it will never be able to surpass human creativity as creativity itself relies on new, innovative thoughts, something that AI still needs to learn.

At 999, we believe the truth is always in the middle. The benefits delivered by the evolution of technology exclusively depend on the use we make of it. And while we find ourselves pondering if AI is good or bad, someone out there is definitely making good use of their "Avocat".

[The images featured in this article were created by our Art Director, Paul Humphreys, using the AI platform Stable Diffusion]

#blogging #innovation #technology #visualarts

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