Sight, smell, taste. Our senses all shape our habits, abilities, and experiences. From driving to cooking, what we do and what we create depends mainly on our emotions.
But artificial intelligence is changing that – in the kitchen, in our leisure time, and the creative workshops of artists. We can make recipes, play chess and even paint portraits full of human emotion. But where will AI take us? How inspiring can it be? And how much can we control it?
Artificial intelligence is challenging to define in simple terms because complex questions surround it. Perhaps it would be easier to understand if we shifted our thinking a little.
Rather than trying to find a precise definition, we could focus on looking at existing applications in the field of AI. These include:
automatic text generation, which can help us write more concise emails
identifying objects in video streams, for example, to help self-driving cars navigate safely on busy roads
generating novel images based on specific art styles.
These are the things people associate with when they talk about artificial intelligence.
In the media and the movies, we have seen sensationalist speculation about what artificial intelligence can do. Everyone has heard of artificial beings that are self-aware or even artificial intelligence systems that could one day take over the world. These are interesting (and perhaps scary!) questions to ponder. But they are certainly not realistic.
The use of artificial intelligence is present in many industries, from online marketing to financial services. In all of these industries, people are using AI technologies to achieve specific goals that facilitate routine tasks or foster innovation.
The creative industries are no exception. Practitioners are using AI technologies to push boundaries previously thought impossible, and in doing so, this technology is set to revolutionize the creative industries (too). New forms of AI could transform the way we work in fashion, visual arts, broadcasting, journalism, music, and film.
In addition to these challenges, there are also questions about how these new systems should be used. It’s all very well having access to these technologies, but what do we need to do to use them? We need to apply them in creative processes to benefit both the workflow itself and the result. In other words, creative professionals must be able to use these technologies to improve their work.
Machine learning systems also pose existential problems for artists and connoisseurs/buyers. Artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are pushing us to reassess what we consider art and what we know about the artist’s role.
German artist Mario Klingemann, who uses artificial intelligence in his work, has radical views on creativity.
An attractive proposition, let’s admit it.
The music industry and artificial intelligence
Not so long ago, it was reported in the news that 27 years after Kurt Cobain’s death, the latest Nirvana song was created thanks to artificial intelligence software.
The impact of artificial intelligence on music composition is one of the most misunderstood topics. Skeptics of machine-generated music paint a dark picture of songs created by robots on-demand, without human input or emotion. But the situation is far from this.
The most successful AI-based music productions are those where the technology has been used to ‘collaborate’ with musicians, not replace them.
Its impact on music production, by contrast, is much more practical.
For example, an AI-powered studio tool can analyze large datasets of recordings to work out the best settings for different genres or help speed up repetitive or tedious studio processes.
Fashion and artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence is fundamentally transforming the fashion industry, from how fashion companies manufacture their products to the way they distribute and sell them. Different technologies are present in design, manufacturing, logistics, marketing, and sales.
With more sophisticated data collection, some fashion brands use technology to understand customer needs and design better clothing products. For example, a German-based fashion platform, Zalando (in partnership with Google), uses AI-assisted fashion design based on customers’ preferred colors, textures, and other style preferences.
Fashion brands using artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can now identify fast-changing fashion trends and deliver the latest accessories to retail shelves faster than ‘traditional’ retailers. As a result, leading fashion brands such as Zara, Top Shop, and H&M can provide shoppers with immediate stock more quickly by identifying seasonal needs and producing the proper range of the latest clothing.
Artificial intelligence-enabled technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are now bridging the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience. In-store augmented reality, for example, allows shoppers to access any product through digital media. And with virtual reality, Tommy Hilfiger created a virtual image of its pop-up retail store. In collaboration with IBM, Tommy Hilfiger has pioneered a project called “Rethinking Retail,” which teaches fashion designers to use artificial intelligence to design. As a result, fashion students have learned a wealth of technical skills to create personalized garments.
Our world is rapidly changing, and all that is happening is beyond a mere digital transformation. Artificial intelligence is creating a new regime that, like it or not, is here for all of us. It would be a mistake to think that we have nothing to do with it and not affect our lives. We have to learn to use it ethically. Otherwise, we are just slaves.