If Artificial Intelligence designed a car, could it be a better car designer than a human one? Designer Karolina Dabrowski takes a deep dive…
Creativity is a slippery word. It can be found everywhere; in the way a mathematician solves a mathematical problem, an engineer comes up with unconventional solutions, or a squirrel getting creative to break into the bird feeder. The latter is maybe a less promising example of creativity. But what exactly is creativity? And can an algorithm do this, too? Let’s take a look at the following definition:
Artificial Intelligence needs training first, but once trained, the outcome is never for sure predictable. So it’s safe to check the first point in claiming that AI can provide us with something new.
“Seek success but prepare for vegetables“
This is an AI-generated inspirational quote that sounds a bit like a foreign saying. It’s not perfect but still a decent even slightly funny result. I don’t think humans would really come up with this when tasked to write something inspirational. It’s new and it’s surprising!
But what about the value part? When it comes to art, the question of value is quite complex, but in automotive design it’s actually quite easy; the design is of value when it solves the underlying problem. This means, in this case; being aesthetically pleasing while taking engineering, manufacturing, package constraints, regulation, homologation and target group into account (and some more points not mentioned here, depending on the requirements). Easy, isn’t it?
Learn the Rules Like a Pro, Break Them Like An Artist
For creating design, art or music, we are taught different principles, like proportion, repetition, rhythm, golden ratio, the Fibonacci spiral, you name it. It’s more than easy to put those principles into code and the results would probably look or sound quite decent. Yet, real creativity is not bound by those rules and often emerges from intentionally breaking them. The most creative pieces emerge from well thought out rebellion against those principles.
If the Coder is the Rule-Maker, Can the Code be a Rule-Breaker?
So how can you teach a computer to disregard something you just told it to do? Turns out, AI is actually quite good at breaking rules. When Alpha Go, the first Go-playing AI, got trained, it was fed with all the rules, moves and possibilities that Go players around the world have gathered for centuries. But the real breakthrough in the game was when the AI decided to actually not follow those rules but do something completely off the wall. It was new, extremely surprising and of the highest value– it changed Go forever.
So, Should We Pack Up Our Wacoms and Go Home?
Before you find yourself drifting into an existential crisis, let me tell you this: the real challenge in design is not to generate the design itself, but to generate emotions. And this is still very much a human thing. The job of a car designer might change and shift towards the role of – let’s say – a conductor; emphasizing the right bits and pieces on a generated design to ensure the emotional aspects and put the final details in.
The True Value is the Collaboration
At the end, the true benefit will be in complementing and augmenting the human capabilities, not replacing them. It’s very likely that an AI car designer could soon come up with a beautiful (or at least decent) designed car and make a valuable contribution to the world of car design. It will still be in the hand of the human designer to lead the design development.
The following is a summary of some impressive projects I came across when researching AI and creativity and includes examples from design, art, music and language. And a short personal story on how I became interested in this topic.
Who wouldn’t like to have a personal assistant that does all the small things that take up your valuable time? Appointment at the hair salon? No problem! Reservation at the restaurant? Done! Listen to the way this AI-powered language application makes phone calls and how the humans on the other side have no idea that they’re talking to an artificial assistant. And they’re funny, too!
THE NEXT REMBRANDT
Can the style of one of the biggest painters be reproduced by an algorithm? One of these portraits was made entirely by an AI. In order to mimic the texture of a real oil painting, it was 3D printed and, when shown to art experts, they could not tell it from a real one. Which one is real, which one is the fake one? Take a guess! The right answer plus video is at the end of this article.
AUTODESK GENERATIVE DESIGN
This is literally where CAD shifts from ‘Computer-Aided Design’ to ‘Computer Automated Design’. Imagine putting some parameters in, like dimensions, hardpoints, material or manufacturing constraints, and voila – let the algorithm generate thousands of designs for you.
CAR SKETCHING AI
When Covid hit Paris, the young design student Trym Abrahamsen set out for a neat lockdown project. He fed a neural network with one thousand car sketches and asked it to generate its own versions. The machine learning system used to create the sketches is a system that pits algorithms against each other in order to improve the quality of the results.
Another car sketching AI that allows you to use its tool to get your own generated car sketch. The results don’t always look like a car, but with a little Photoshop refinement you can achieve some decent results. Anyway, it’s more meant to be an inspirational tool to speed up your design process and get you some fresh ideas when you’re stuck.
A blurry face, a white collar and a dark coat. It’s like a dreamy version of a portrait – or a drunk one. However, this painting was sold for $ 432,500 at Christie’s, being the first AI artpiece that went under the hammer. But this was not the only fact that sparked the interest of the art scene. As the piece was created by using code from someone else, it raised the question of ownership and credits. Does the coder get the credits, the artist using the code or the AI for coming up with the final piece?
SCHUBERTS UNFINISHED SYMPHONY No.8
Franz Schubert has given up on his symphony for almost 200 years, but for the first time ever, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei is harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to compose a piece of music that has remained unfinished for 197 years. Using a smartphone to complete Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony is good publicity, especially as the same composer was trained to drive last year. We need good news, but we also need to make sure we come up with appropriate tunes.
Writing good copy can be a pain. And this tool is here to soothe it. It’s probably the most advanced copywriting AI tool so far, and it works pretty amazing. Besides writing some good copy for you, it will also give your ideas how to grow your business based on your product description, identify pain points and solutions, give you some advice on your next start up idea or just help you find the perfect caption for your Insta post. There’s a free trial version you can check out here.
A little personal story of how I became interested in this topic
When my dad got bored at his job at the UN Atomic Agency, he put his mathematical skills to use for having some fun. He began by programming simple algorithms that combined geometrical shapes with pre-defined parameters. His motto was; beauty, like in nature, arises where order and chaos are combined. His software ‘meditation’ was indeed a calming experience, as you could watch the process of each image in real-time with musical accompaniment. He eventually produced over 2000 generated images, had numerous exhibitions and accompanied an orchestra with his visuals. Not AI-powered, but pretty impressive looking back on it.
*And now the resolution to the Rembrandt: The left one is AI-generated. Not too bad, right? Watch the video of the full process here:
ONE MORE THING: I asked AI to write one of those paragraphs in this article by just providing the headline. The result was decent enough and I actually liked the funny statement made at the end. I was wondering, can tell which one it is?
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