Powerful Tool or Passing Fad? Two Colorado Pros Weigh In on the Future of AI

Leaders from JumpCloud and InspiringApps share their insights on what artificial intelligence means for the future of design.

Written by Zach Baliva
Published on Aug. 17, 2023
Powerful Tool or Passing Fad? Two Colorado Pros Weigh In on the Future of AI
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The year is 2286. The infamous Dr. Spock stands before a federation computer running a program designed to retrain his mind. It asks Spock for the molecular formula of yominum sulfide crystals, quizzes him about historical events on various planets, tests his logic regarding complex chess moves and asks him to recite certain facts and figures. 

“How do you feel?” the computer wants to know. Spock blinks and stares at the screen in confused silence. It asks him again. 

“How do you feel?”

Spock objects. He doesn't know how to respond. 

As artificial intelligence and AI-generated content creep into the mainstream, some design professionals feel a bit like Dr. Spock as they stare at their reflections in the monitor. How should design teams communicate with AI? What are the ethical standards and best practices for implementing this new tool? Does it represent a threat or an opportunity? 

Opening a blank page of Adobe Illustrator or opening a tab of ChatGPT unlock a world of potential — leaving designers feeling much like Spock facing his abstract conundrum, said InspiringApps Art Director Aaron Lea.

“As designers, we need to overcome the instinct to stick to what we know because the future can be intimidating,” he said. “We have to learn how to answer the abstract.” 

JumpCloud Director of Product Design Jake Taylor agrees.

AI can elevate various creative tasks,” said Taylor, noting that it can never replace the importance of designers and the design discipline. 

Built In was curious to hear from Taylor and others in the Colorado area regarding both the emerging potential and the inescapable pitfalls of AI as the tools become more accessible across the industry and beyond. 

 

Jake Taylor
Director of Product Design • JumpCloud

The JumpCloud Open Directory platform helps IT and security professionals authenticate, authorize, and manage users, devices, and applications.

 

Give us some background on your experience and what you do in your current role at your company.

I’m a seasoned UX and product design professional with over 18 years of expertise in the field. Over the years, I have sharpened my skills through valuable experiences with Fortune 500 companies, top-tier agencies and dynamic startups. Currently, I am a product design director at JumpCloud, leading a talented team of product designers dedicated to shaping our cutting-edge global IT security platform.

 

In your opinion, what impact will AI have on the future of design as a profession? 

As UX and product designers, we must understand that we are entirely in control and responsible for all of these relationships as the user of these AI tools and services. Recognizing that we are the driving force behind this seemingly infinite source of imagination and productivity unlocks the true potential of AI and how it can enhance our workflows and creative outputsAlternatively, as designers become more ingrained in the AI and ML spaces, we are responsible for raising the red flag when AI is being misused. This can happen when it excludes groups of people or data or when poor design renders products unusable for their base.

Recognizing that we are the driving force behind this infinite source of imagination unlocks the true potential of AI.”

 

AI lacks essential human qualities like empathy, creativity, and critical thinking. It is also lacking ethical guardrails or any sense of inclusivity for underrepresented groups. 

AI impacts every industry that embraces it, and design is no different. Again, we are in the driver's seat. AI is only as bright as the code or data it utilizes. It is only as creative, ethical, or inclusive as the user can prompt or guide it to be.

 

What do you think design professionals should do now to prepare for the integration of AI into workflows?

As a designer, it's critical to understand the capabilities of any tool we intend to use in our projects, creative processes or workflows. Once we know their power and usefulness, we can integrate these new technologies and evaluate how to use them to fit our needs. 

When I begin learning about a new topic, I search for the professionals at the cutting edge and follow them on the social platforms they frequent the most. I'm also a big fan of newsletters that I can quickly scan to catch up on the latest news and trends. 

As someone who has worked in design for a while, I have never been the type to jump on trendy bandwagons just for the sake of it. But in this case, AI is only getting started and will not fade into the abyss anytime soon. As designers, now is the time to learn and grow alongside this technology.

By being part of AI's evolution, we can influence its growth and help to ensure these technologies mature with a focus on usability, ethics and inclusivity. Whether you view AI as a partner or a tool within your field, I would suggest that you explore how it can benefit you personally, professionally, or competitively.

 

 

Aaron Lea
Art Director • InspiringApps

InspiringApps builds web applications, custom software solutions, and other digital products. 
 

Give us some background on your experience and what you do in your current role at your company.

I’m the art director for InspiringApps. I oversee user interfaces: I listen to ideas from clients and take their existing brand and their existing look and make sure that it infuses well into the apps we’re creating.

Before InspiringApps, I worked with a variety of advertising and design agencies on film, music and consumer-facing products.

 

In your opinion, what impact will AI have on the future of design as a profession?

I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to this question. Philosophically and practically, there’s a lot of fear around AI. A better question may be, “Are we more interested in what other humans are creating or what a robot made?”

A key part of this is ethical use. It’s the blood sweat, and tears that give design meaning and value. We study what inspired us to get to this outcome and learn to keep creating novel designs.

But newer consumers “speak” design and expect a growing amount of content to consume. In a sense, we’re creating the problems we’ll need AI to solve. And in that sense, AI tools will supplement our work and make us more efficient in designing at scale and meeting demand.

AI tools will supplement our work and make us more efficient in designing at scale.” 

 

Artists are always curating. There’s an organic conversation with what’s meaningful around us. For example, the Beatles slowly curated influences to create the music that defines the mid-60s. They knew what to ignore and what to listen to.

I think an ethical use of AI is in that same spirit, as a curation tool. We feed AI the information we need. Then, we take the good, remove the bad and modify it to create our product. We also collaborate with it,but not so much that we lose our jobs.

 

 The InspiringApp team gathered in front of a mountain range on green grass.
InspiringApp

 

What do you think design professionals should do now to prepare for the integration of AI into workflows?

The biggest step to prepare is to understand how to communicate with AI. Preceding generations had to shift from encyclopedias to Google searches. We need to learn how to interact with evolving systems of technology, too.

How do we become proficient in talking to AI to get the information we need? And then how do we respond and modify to further refine those results? For ‌designers, this is an important new language to become fluent in.

In the mid-90s, we had this seismic shift to digital. An influx of overqualified creatives applied to entry-level agency positions because they had resisted that shift. We need to overcome the instinct to stick to what we know because the future can be intimidating. 

Like the first time you open Adobe Illustrator where there’s a world of features combined with a blank page, ChatGPT is an open prompt.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies

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