thinkLeaders

SXSW Takeaways: AI Will Allow for More Creativity, Not Less

Share this post:

This year at SXSW, Artificial Intelligence was predictably a recurring theme. There were dozens of panels on the subject of AI and its infinite applications. The technology is infiltrating every industry so quickly, one can’t help but feel we are on the verge of a fundamental shift, akin to the Web 2.0 revolution, or even the rise of the Internet itself.

Despite all the hype, one dark narrative has haunted discussions of AI for the last few years—that somehow it’s rise will be accompanied by a suffocation of creativity. This fear, I suspect, stems from the assumption that the computing power of AI will somehow displace the “human touch.” Put another way, that society’s creative minds will be subordinated to the raw analysis of cold, calculating machines.

But this year’s discussion on AI at SXSW affirms the position that nothing could be further from the truth. Engineers across the industry are working specifically on creativity for thinking machines. In fact, one need not go that far into a sci-fi future to see how the expansion of AI is allowing for an even broader palette for design and creativity.

Alongside the great number of AI discussions, we saw the arrival of retail at SXSW like never before.  Like so many industries before it, retail is undergoing seismic changes that are at work at every level of the commercial experience. From design to manufacturing to inventory management to distribution to marketing to retail to customer care, and everywhere in between, AI applications are being used to mitigate large-scale disruption. These exciting developments are not displacing workers in these sectors, but rather empowering them with new data, allowing them to make better business decisions. At SXSW we learned about virtual styling assistants available for in-store use. The festival’s Retail Innovation Lounge hosted experiences from many brands who are leveraging AI. Savitude, also representing at SXSW, uses AI to recommend clothing based on a shopper’s body shape.

Many of these applications are allowing makers, creatives, and artists to augment their creativity with the kind of data-driven insights that only AI can provide. The algorithms that power AI are tools for human creativity. They give rise to data that can spot trends before they start, and predict what kinds of creative choices that most people will respond to. We can begin to think of AI as an extension of our human creative intelligence, which expands the potential of our creativity beyond the limits of a single brain, which is limited to one worldview, and brings with it a lifetime’s buildup of limiting biases. This kind of machine thinking won’t hamstring creatives. Rather, by merging AI with that which is uniquely human—new possibilities and new horizons of creativity become accessible.

Leader, Digital Marketing Services, IBM iX || Editor-in-Chief, thinkLeaders

More thinkLeaders stories

Changing the World, One Website at a Time

Corporate social responsibility is important. Very important. With the ability for widespread internal communications and the advantage of robust organizational structures, corporations are poised to help in a big way. And it seems the timing is right to double down on CSR for two reasons: Consumers want to support brands with charitable missions (see: Toms […]

Continue reading

How the Blockchain Will Free Your Identity

How do you know I am who I say I am? How do you know that I can be trusted? You might look for me on Twitter or Facebook. If you’re an app maker, you might rely on Apple or Google. If you’re an officer of the law, you may ask for my driver’s license, […]

Continue reading

These Schools Are Already Using Virtual Reality to Teach

Marcus Belingheri, a 16-year-old junior at the Marin School of the Arts in Novato, California, is excited about showing off his digital arts class’s work at the spring parent showcase, in a gallery the class is designing themselves. He’s especially looking forward to the moment when the white walls and dark wood floor varnish. That’s […]

Continue reading