The Era Of AI Design – Farewell Human Karl Lagerfeld, Welcome ‘Digital’ Karl Lagerfeld

The times we live in! ‘DeepVogue’, a ‘deep learning’ AI design created by Shenlan Technology has managed to take the 2nd place at the China International Fashion Design.

The Era Of AI Design – Is AI The Future?

Its often-charismatic enthusiasts have always hyped the future of Artificial Intelligence. But now, it seems that the hype has become real. Media pundits, technologists and the broader public no longer argue if the rise of artificial intelligence is inevitable or not. AI is here.

Companies with mass data fed into AI systems such as Google, Facebook, Badoo, Alibaba, and many others, make daily headlines with technological successes that were SCI-FI movies a decade ago.

Nowadays, we ask an AI assistant on the smartphone for recommendations personalised to our interests. We ride around in cars driven by AI algorithms, and trust AI to find better ways of curing genetical diseases. The world has changed, and AI is a big part of why.

Most experts talk about the AI ‘revolution’ in glowing terms. The latest advancements in computer technology are now seen as advances in humanity; better standards of living, instant access to knowledge, improved hearing and vision – not only for the impaired, cheaper manufacturing of goods, and even better recommendations from Amazon, and Netflix.

Artificial Intelligence is progress, but technological progress cuts both ways. That is why, despite the excitement around artificial intelligence, there is a growing cautionary voice about its potential downside.

The Era Of AI Design – Early Warnings

Back in 2000, Bill Joy, former CTO of Sun Microsystems, wrote ‘Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us’, putting together one of the most famous apocalyptic rants about the threat of AI to humanity.

Sadly, Bill’s message was drowned out by the closer and more tangible problems, such as the attacks of 9/11. Almost two decades later, his anxiety over robots taking over humanity made possible by rapid advances in AI, has become more current than ever.

Three years later, ‘The Artificial Intelligence Revolution: Will Artificial Intelligence Serve Us or Replace Us?’ was launched by Louis Del Monte, a former IBM researcher. In the book, Del Monte expresses his concern that AI is happening so fast that humanity won’t be able to cope with the changes.

A year later, ‘Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies’, a bestseller penned by Nick Bostrom, warned us again of the potentiality of AI spelling the end of humanity.

William Barrat, a National Geographic writer and filmmaker, also joined the fray in a full-apocalyptic mode in ‘Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era’, worrying over the AI’s influence in the societal construct.

The Era Of AI Design – Can We Coexist?

According to Bostrom, ‘AI could become an existential threat to humanity’. A threat that’s eclipsing previous (and ongoing) concerns about climate change, accelerated pollution, wars, or even nuclear disasters.

Luminaries like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have also revealed potential problems that could arise with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence.

Moreover, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, has often insisted in the past that humans will be reduced to “pets” by the next super AI if we don’t take action now. Musk has donated $10 million to the ‘Future of Life Institute’, in a bid to help to find a way to coexist peacefully.

However, most of those concerns were focused on the so-called crossover point in the affairs of man and machine. At the point where the AI passes human intelligence and creativity, and humans cease to be the most powerful beings on the planet.

The Era Of AI Design – AI Creativity

Yes, creativity. In November 2014 the article ‘Artificial Intelligence as a Threat’ was published by The New York Times in the Fashion and Style section. As an omen of what’s coming, the author was suggesting the idea that machines are the future creators.

An idea supported by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT’s Centre for Digital Business and the Sloan School of Management. According to their claims, AI will soon begin assuming roles that were once the sole purview of humans.

Their book, ‘The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies’ reads: “From manufacturing to customisation and arts, AI will change the landscape of the new world.”

But not everybody sees AI the same. In ‘Who Owns the Future?’ Jaron Lanier, a pioneer of virtual-reality software, expresses a profound doubt regarding the coming of a super AI.

Lanier’s views align with Nicholas Carr’s, a former Harvard Business Review editor and writer of a 2007 article, ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid?’, in their belief that AI is a misnomer as ‘true intelligence’ comes only from human minds.

The Era Of AI Design – Welcome Deep Vogue

Fast forward to 2019 and today’s news. A creative algorithm designed by Shenlan Technology has managed to take the second place, after the winners Valentina Cosenza and Giada Petrolini, at the China International Fashion Design. Creativity?

DeepVogue was the only ‘non-human designer’ among 16 teams from all over the world. The ‘machine’ defeated Iris van Wees, a graduate of Amsterdam Fashion Institute, and many other human designers, before a panel of 50 judges, thanks to – let’s be honest – some absolutely magnificent creations.

DeepVogue AI design not only won the runner-up prize but also the ‘People’s Choice Award.’

The Era Of AI Design – What’s China Got To Do With It?

Back in 2017, the ‘Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan‘ was launched by the government, seeking to make China a world leader in AI innovation by 2030.

Nowadays, led by Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, at least another 15 Chinese AI companies are worth over 1 billion USD while almost 85 per cent of Chinese companies are testing some forms of AI.

The data shows a level of adoption and implementation considerable higher than the US, in second place with a modest 51 per cent.

China dominates the global AI industry. The country ranks number one for the quantity of AI funding, research papers, and granted patents and with over 2,000 AI companies already operating.

The Era Of AI Design – What’s Next?

Thanks to ‘DeepVogue’, it has become evident that algorithms can create original fashion designs. Once again, I expect the news to reignite speculations on AI design and its potential impact on creative jobs this time.

Nevertheless, I feel that an interesting paradox has emerged: As our technological innovation has become the crowning enlightenment of humanity, it seems that the fast-changing narrative of the contemporary world leaves no room for us, humans.

Or simply put, our creativity is directing us out of existence.