Digitalisation continues to advance in all areas of life and work. Artificial intelligence systems play a central role in this. Increasingly, such self-learning algorithms are being used in companies, in science, in public institutions, but also in design and art, to analyse enormous amounts of data, to automate processes, to develop solutions. Under the title “Can a machine design? Implications of artificial intelligence for the future of art and design universities”, the SwissGradNet Discovery Conference No. 3 is dedicated to the coming changes in design and production methods. In lectures and round-table discussions, “relevant fields of action for the successful further development of teaching and research at art and design universities will be outlined” in an online conference organised by SwissGradNet on 29 October together with representatives of the creative industries, the arts and universities.
As far as the consequences of the use of AI are concerned, hopes and fears are close to each other: while some see in it a way to overcome the complex problems of this world, others, as the announcement of the conference says, stir up fears “of a superintelligence that could outstrip the creative genius of humanity and take power over it”. AI raises ethical and legal questions when algorithms make decisions that affect society.
On the one hand, AI is used by designers and artists as a matter of course as a tool in the design process and in artistic work. On the other hand, algorithms are learning to paint pictures or design products on their own. Accordingly, their use raises questions about what impact AI will have on the creative industries, the arts and, not least, on universities. How will professional profiles and fields of work change? Will one have to acquire new qualifications in the future in order to survive on the labour market? “Some of the propagated future competencies, such as creative thinking or problem-solving skills,” the announcement says, “correspond to those cross-sectional competencies that have always been taught in design and art education. For the design and art academies, therefore, in the context of the digital transformation and AI, the question is not only how they should fulfil their institutional mandate in teaching and research, but also, conversely, what and to what extent they can contribute to the further development of other disciplines and professional profiles.”
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