In the face of transformation, should designers conform or rebel? | by Michael F. Buckley | Dec, 2023


As artificial intelligence continues to impact our jobs, we must embrace creativity, intuition, and unpredictability to flourish.

Photo by David Rotimi on Unsplash

As designers, some of us are at a storybook crossroads. On the one hand, we can survive by adapting and acquiring new, albeit ill-fitting, skills and knowledge destined to transform us into a shell of our former selves. On the other hand, we can rebel against the utilitarian path set forth and instead choose to pursue the elusive dream of genuine creative freedom and meaningful design integration.

The real question becomes, do you want to survive or be free?

I don’t have to remind you how the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) will fundamentally transform designers’ roles. Between the growing number of turn-key design solutions and the evolving predictive user behavior technology, we risk becoming mindless prompt engineers and soulless application operators.

Designers often argue that AI will never replace their jobs because machines lack human empathy. Unfortunately, this utopian notion may not hold water when viewed through the lens of reality.

For example, one study found that AI scores higher on empathy than human doctors. While this may not sound relevant to design, it’s worth noting we are still in the beginning stages of the AI evolution. In a few more years, AI empathy will likely be able to mirror or even surpass perceived human empathy.

However, empathy is not the only factor some designers believe will be their saving grace. One recent article mentioned that as traditional design roles transform, we will become more involved with ethics, law, and business responsibilities related to design. While this idea sounds romantic, a serious question worth asking is why we would need such specific design roles when we can simply teach relevant design knowledge to ethics, law, and business professionals.

It may be disheartening to hear, but in our current culture, designers do not hold as critical a role as we like to believe — no matter how much we want it to be true. If…


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