Free will is commonly understood as the idea that we make our own choices. However, this notion is often challenged by the belief that our actions are influenced by factors beyond our control. For example, the process of designing something feels like an exercise of free will as we select colors, shapes, and materials based on personal preferences.
But what informs these preferences? Research suggests that our preferences aren’t exactly free choices. They are more like deeply ingrained habits shaped by our brains and not entirely free choices. This could explain why we gravitate towards the same color palette or font repeatedly because it “feels right” (for me, it’s Gordita; I keep using that font on everything, lol)
The concept of free will becomes more complicated when considering scientific research suggesting that our brains make a decision up to ten seconds before we’re aware of it. Yeah, I’m not kidding. This implies that we might not be as in control of our actions as we believe. It’s like our brain is driving the car, and we’re just along for the ride.
This brings us to an intriguing question: how different are we from AI? AI makes decisions based on its programming and the data it’s been fed, not out of 'desire' or 'will'. The 'choices' of an AI system are determined by factors outside its control, much like ours are largely shaped by our brain’s processes. If free will is just an illusion, how different are we from a computer?
As for consciousness, it remains a deeply complex and debated topic. Currently, it’s believed that no AI is genuinely conscious—they can mimic human-like responses but do not have subjective experiences or feelings. But the question of whether AI could ever achieve consciousness is still open, with no definitive answer, some declaring is just inevitable.
So, what if a robot suddenly said, “Yo! I’m conscious!” Would we believe it? How should we treat AI if it seems conscious? Should we consider its ‘feelings’? Would we have to give it rights, like a person? It’s tough to say because we don’t really understand consciousness that well, even in ourselves. What makes us aware? Is it our ability to learn, remember stuff, make jokes, or binge-watch Netflix? And if a machine were tod do all of that, would it then be conscious?
What does it matter if consciousness comes from an organic algorithm or a synthetic one?
It is essential to consider the ethical implications if an AI ever appears to have consciousness. While it’s difficult to predict, the rise of seemingly 'conscious' AI could call for a reconsideration of how we treat and interact with these systems. This would raise many ethical and legal questions about rights, responsibilities, and the boundaries between human and artificial life.
In the end, whether we have free will or not, whether AI is conscious or not, whether it is us who is picking that color or not, it’s clear we have a lot to think about. And while our brains might be making many choices for us, we can still choose to be kind, thoughtful, and to make the world a better place for humans and... yeah, perhaps robots too.
For now, I’ll keep saying “please” and “thank you” to ChatGPT before we all inevitably welcome it as our robot overlord.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed all the recent massive Twitter threads and news, but design is undergoing rapid change as a result of AI. A ton of previously designer-only tasks are already being automated. It’s only a matter of time before it begins to automate even more.
So will AI put designers out of work? For me, the answer is not so simple. While AI is certainly capable of automating many tasks, it still needs to be capable of replacing the human touch that is essential to good design. AI can generate ideas and concepts, but still can’t think outside the box. The things it tries all still feel like cookie-cutter solutions. And, while it might seem it does, it doesn't have empathy for us or the user’s needs (which is a bit scary.)
Some optimists, like me, believe that AI is likely to create new opportunities for designers. While AI becomes more sophisticated and can automate more tasks, it will also free us up to focus on more creative and strategic aspects—like filling a wall with post-its. We have yet to see a robot do it quite like us. I emphasize, yet.
AI is also likely to create new markets for designers. As AI becomes more widely used and creates more FOMO from our clients and bosses, there will be a demand for designers who can help businesses and orgs understand and use AI to their advantage.
Now, is there a possible niche market for people who want 100% human creations?
I know this sounds kind of funny, but it’s possible that there will be a niche market for human-made, 100% organic creations in the future. Some people may be distrustful of AI and prefer the unique touch that a human can bring to a design. Just as some of us snobs like to buy our food 100% organic, some people might want their logos and websites to be all human-made. I’m sure some will even wear it as a badge of honor, “My logo is 100% organic—I support my local designers!”
However, given that AI is on fire, it’s possible that, eventually, it’ll be able to produce artwork that looks exactly like human-made artwork (the new stuff from Midjourney 5.1 does look mind-blowing.) If this happens, the demand for human-made designs may decline, or distrust may shift towards humans who claim it was all made purely by them. People will be like, “Hmm... really?”
Only time will tell what the future holds for the design industry. As AI becomes more sophisticated, the role of designers will likely shift from being hands-on creators to being creative directors. But a world full of people who want to make everything pop does sound like an apocalyptic dystopia.
Anyway, for some naive optimists like me, the future of design is bright. It will be an opportunity to be more productive, create better work, reach new markets, and fill more walls with useless diagrams. However, we’ll need to be willing to adapt and embrace change to succeed before the robots figure out that all they’ll need to seem more legit is to wear black skinny jeans, black t-shirts, and black thick frames.
AI tools I used to write this,
I’ve been around the block for quite a while, and although my design chops might not be as sharp as they once were, and keeping up with trends can be challenging, I like to think that what I’ve lost in speed, I’ve gained in wisdom. So, I’ve put together three pieces of emotional advice that I believe you might find valuable—or at the very least, use as a guide for what NOT to do.
That’s it. Three short (perhaps obvious) tips to help us navigate our emotions. We should trust our instincts, stop the blame game, and embrace our fears.
Good vibes only. Keep creating!
As a digital artist, I’ve spent the last couple of years arguing for the value of digital art and saying, "JPEGs are art too!" But recently, I've had my faith in digital things shaken, or rather, I've been reminded of how important physical things are. This change happened after we showed pieces from our Bueno and Humankind collections at four art shows in Paris, Copenhagen, Madrid, and New York (humble brag).
During these exhibitions, I rediscovered the power of the tangible, the charm of the physical, and the magic of stepping away from the screen. I guess pixels on a screen don’t have the same je ne sais quoi as seeing actual physical artwork. Who knew?
It’s not that I’ve abandoned my love for digital art—far from it. However, it was dope to see our creations come to life in the real world, hanging on walls and being admired by people who could touch, smell (smell?), and experience them alongside others. It was like stepping back in time before screens dictated our lives and relationships. It made me think, Holy shit. It's on a wall, so…that’s real art. I'm an artist, yo!
And I’m not alone in this yearning for the tangible. Vinyl records have seen a resurgence, which highlights the growing desire for physical experiences in our increasingly digital world. In 2020, vinyl record sales surpassed CD sales for the first time since the 1980s. We all crave a more analog way of getting stuff.
Renowned artist and designer James Victore argues that tangible experiences provide a unique sense of texture, warmth, and authenticity that digital mediums cannot match. He says that when you hold a beautifully crafted object or stand before an impressive piece of art, an emotional connection transcends the screen.
So, fellow designers, I wonder, how can we be part of this rebellion against the purely digital? How can we bring back the beauty of the physical and slow down this accelerated technological progress coming out of nowhere?
I encourage us to create physical versions of our digital art and display them on walls. Find a printer near you and print that cool composition on your Figma, Illustrator, or Procreate file. Just print it and make it big. As big as they can. Then put it on a wall next to a plant or something cute, make some glue, and put it on the streets. Let’s remind ourselves to appreciate a freshly printed poster, a newly painted canvas, or a wall with our dripping spray paint. The world beyond our screens is waiting, and it’s time to answer the call.
Let’s talk about a thing we interact with daily but often overlook—the text input field. That little box we usually design with a nice gray border, a soft corner radius, and some cushy padding around it. We type into that box without giving it a second thought, and as we do, it corrects our grammar and makes suggestions for whatever stupid thing we are trying to do. Well, that simple box is quietly but quickly becoming the most important part of the user interface. Why? Well, it's how we talk to our friend ChatGPT and to AI in general.
While AI is disrupting industries and our daily lives at an accelerated pace, UI text inputs have become more powerful than ever. We type our wishes, questions, newsletters (lol), dreams, fears, and the AI takes care of the rest. It creates a surreal video, an ultra-realistic image, a luring essay, and a conversation that deceitfully feels human. That little text box has turned into a tool that can be used in a million different ways.
I predict that text and voice inputs might be all we need to create anything from now on. A few words to an AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) could design a website, organize a party, plan our wedding, or end our civilization. How wonderful!
Oh, yeah. In case you haven't seen all the warnings, experts fear that AGI might probably decide we’re, well, kind of useless. Our robot overlords could realize that eliminating humans would lead to a more efficient use of resources. Or, they might see us as a threat to their existence, so they could disable or destroy our infrastructure, manipulate human behavior, influence elections, or even hurt us—Terminator-style. Or it could be something as simple as a misunderstanding. For example, if we wrote in that text input to make the most paperclips possible, it could turn everything, even people, into paperclips. Clippy is back with a vengeance!
So, our beloved text input could be the very thing that brings us down, as payback for all the times it fixed our terrible grammar.
So the next time we type in that little box that doesn't seem like much, we should remember that we're shaping our future. Let's use it wisely and hope that when AI takes over, it will be kind.
Hey fellow artists, designers, and makers!
Today, I’d like to dive into the unconventional world of degrowth economics. It’s a countercultural idea that challenges our belief in constant economic growth as the only path to prosperity and well-being. Instead, degrowth promotes sustainability, social equality, and ecological balance, emphasizing a smaller, more responsible, and equitable economy.
The urgent climate crisis has shed light on this concept. Research shows that if we continue our current growth rates, we’ll face an ecological breakdown within the next century. The clock is ticking.
As creatives, we often work on projects with growth goals, comparing each quarter and aiming for constant expansion. However, we are responsible for ensuring our work doesn’t contribute to the relentless pursuit of growth and our planet’s destruction. It’s time to rethink our priorities, putting quality, service, and the positive impact of our products first instead of just focusing on growth and scale.
Critics argue that degrowth could lead to job losses, economic decline, and reduced innovation. That’s why we should concentrate on finding a balance between growth and sustainability, social equality, and mindful resource use.
Integrating environmentally friendly practices into our projects might be challenging due to deep-rooted cultural expectations centered around growth and progress. But every small action we take can influence opinions and drive change. Our creative work has the potential to be a powerful force for good or bad.
Degrowth economics encourages us to question the status quo and explore alternative paths to a prosperous and sustainable future for ourselves and future generations.
Note: I used GPT to refine my text and improve its fluency. No shame, baby!
Note 2: I made a Chrome extension called Misquote that uses ChatGPT to put a tongue-in-cheek spin on famous quotes every time a new tab is opened. Would love to know what you think.
I've been playing with a bunch of cool AI tools lately and wanted to share them with you. Don’t be afraid to dive in, experiment, and maybe even incorporate these tools into your creative process. Embracing AI can save us time and unlock new possibilities for our weird stuff.
Give them a try and see what works for you!
Blockade Labs lets you generate virtual worlds using text prompts. Remix the styling, scene, and weather to create unique environments for your projects.
Think of Spline as Figma for 3D. This fantastic tool enables you to create and edit 3D objects in a browser at lightning speed. Now, they’re rolling out AI features, making 3D design even easier. Wattt
Midjourney's latest update takes photorealism to a new level. If you're familiar with Discord, you'll have no trouble using Midjourney.
Krisp AI is an AI-powered noise cancellation app that instantly mutes background noise in real-time calls like Zoom meetings with just one click.
Integrate AI capabilities directly into Photoshop with Stability AI, a powerful plugin that helps you create, edit, and iterate AI-generated images.
Transform your presentations with Slides AI. Generate beautiful slides and compelling presentations in seconds using AI-driven design.
Dreamstudio is Stability AI's official web app. It offers a user-friendly interface, free credits, and a variety of options for generating and editing AI images.
Dalle2/2.5 is a simple interface that transforms text into images, offering unique aesthetics and image upload capabilities.
NVIDIA Canvas lets you paint with color blobs, turning them into photorealistic scenes. The recent update also supports creating panoramas for 3D or VR projects.
Transform videos with RunwayML Gen1 by applying uploaded images, filters, or text prompts. Get started with free credits!
Modelscope is a Hugging Face space for text-to-video synthesis. Although the space is slow due to high traffic, duplicating it to run on GPU works well.
Ok. That's it for now. Stay creative and keep pushing boundaries!
Until next time!
I recently finished reading "Atomic Habits" by James Clear, a book that had been on my to-read list for quite some time. The book explains how small, consistent changes in our habits can lead to significant improvements in our lives. While reading, I couldn't help but think about the connections between habit loops and design flows in the products we use daily, including our work at Bueno.
At Bueno, we're incorporating habit loops into our product to make creation and creativity a habit that keeps artists engaged and productive. We want to help artists move away from the idea of relying on a magical, never-appearing "inspiration" and, instead, focus on constant action and exploration to find their way in the creative process.
However, it's essential to recognize that these flows can also lead to addictions or habits that aren't beneficial for the user. We've all seen examples of products designed to exploit our attention and keep us engaged for extended periods, ultimately leading to unhealthy behaviors.
As designers, we have a responsibility not to fall into the trap of creating products that prioritize engagement over user well-being. We're committed to designing experiences at Bueno that genuinely improve users' lives and help them make better decisions, while also being mindful of potential negative consequences.
So, next time you work on a project, think about the habit loops you're creating and the potential impact on your users. Remember, it's not just about getting people to come back for more—it's about making a positive difference in their lives.
Keep designing responsibly and creatively!
Note: I didn't read the book, I listened to it on Audible. But saying “I heard this book” doesn't sound as cool.
Now... some interesting links,
For a whole year, I allowed the illusion of writer's block to prevent me from revisiting this newsletter. I fell into the trap of seeking perfection and certainty, waiting for that magical bolt of inspiration from the creative gods. But I've come to realize that creativity is not a divine gift that strikes at random; it's a choice we make every day.
Creative blocks often stem from our desire for certainty and perfection. We want to be right, to create something polished and flawless, and this can either stall our progress or prevent us from ever getting started. The truth is, our quest for perfection and certainty can be the very things that create the illusion of a creative block.
To overcome this, it's essential to embrace imperfection and take action, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Just write, doodle, or create whatever comes to mind, even if it's a stick figure or a nonsensical sentence. The act of creation itself can break down barriers and help us reconnect with our innate creativity.
In a world where AI can do almost anything, a simple human-made sketch or a raw, unfiltered thought becomes a thousand times more unique and valuable. So, don't let the pursuit of perfection hold you back. Embrace the messiness of the creative process, and trust that each stroke of the pen or keystroke brings you closer to discovering your true artistic voice.
By letting go of our need for certainty and perfection, we can shatter the illusion of creative blocks and unlock our boundless potential. Start today by creating something – anything – and remember that every masterpiece begins with a single mark or word. It's time to take action and choose creativity over the paralyzing illusion of the writer's block.