Commentary

The AI Takeover Can Wait; Humans Are Still Key To Agency Design, Intelligence

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 22, 2018

There is little debate that there are huge benefits and risks to AI, both for agencies and their clients. Instead, industry discussions have now turned toward how to maintain the balance: embracing the day-to-day convenience machine intelligence can provide, while at the same time, walking the thin line of fear that society still feels for any kind of artificial intelligence. 

This unknown is the source of widespread industry debate, generating countless misconceptions along the way, the biggest of which is that AI is ready to replace humans to perform very complex tasks like UX or UI design. This is compounded by Adobe’s recent launch of numerous AI-driven design and development tools. However, agencies have nothing to worry about yet and there a few important reasons why.

AI today is properly known as narrow or ‘weak’ AI, in that it is designed to perform a narrow task, such as facial recognition, internet searches or driving a car. Until the state of AI evolves beyond weak AI, agency designers and developers not only play a critical role in how AI is being applied, but also in how AI can evolve as a field.  They are vital to determining not only the best way to apply the benefits of AI to day-to-day applications, but they also have the responsibility to apply moral standards to ensure the safety of the application of AI to our lives. Setting this moral standard is impossible without humans leading the charge.

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The most powerful aspect of the current state of AI lies on its speed and efficiency in analyzing huge amount of data and provide some sort of intelligence, and the most logical part in which to integrate AI would be the initial research and learning phase of the overall UX/UI process. 

With the continued advancement of AI in designer and developer tools like Adobe Sensei, AI will be, and is already starting to be, naturally integrated into the overall production process of the UX/UI design regardless. This is a huge speed and productivity benefit for agencies and developers facing tighter timelines and smaller budgets. The seamless integration of AI can in turn lead to shorter design and development production timelines, which can result in lower costs for agencies and brands alike.

For many years, agencies have been the primary go-to partners for brands to execute marketing initiatives, but as more and more of these tech and software companies make claims of AI-driven marketing solutions, brands now have more choices than ever for a vendor in the marketplace. 

But agencies continue to offer much more value than AI’s ability to execute. In fact, many agencies have already started to position their business models to be more strategy-focused (thinking first), and have even partnered with AI-driven tech companies and leveraged their products to help them execute faster, and be more cost-effective for executions.

This solution could be a win-win-win situation for the brands, agencies and tech companies that are all adopting and leveraging a mix of AI and human intelligence.

While there is no doubt that AI provides speed, proper UX or UI design is a complex, human-intensive process that includes research, analysis, creativity, learning, validations and more.

Agencies should find a middle ground, leveraging AI appropriately to develop deep, collaborative relationships with brands and create the most impactful digital experiences for the end-users.  By being agile, nimble, and collaborative while leveraging multiple leading and proven methodologies and processes, agencies can ensure that though the debate may rage on and the issue is definitely worth paying attention to, the AI takeover will remain science fiction, at least for now.  

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