There is currently a thread in the Blender group that asked the question if #artists / #designers can and will be replaced by #software.

I am amazed by the amount of responses saying “no” to this question as if it’s not already happening considering the amount of automated tools, templetized and drag-drop assisted/wizard creation that exist to take the burden off the designer, making their applied tool-skillset less and less relevant.

A similar fate has been befalling #photographers since digital cameras became ubiquitous and continues to advance as cellphone cameras move ever closer to expensive professional photo equipment and assistant AI apps do the rest.

I remember starting out with an analog Zorki and later Zenit TTL, the Zorki had neither automatic light nor distance metering, the Zenit only had light metering via red and green led in the center (over/under exposed). Taking a (sharp, well lit) picture with the Zenit required extensive experience and understanding of both lighting conditions as well as film choice, or needed time and preparation. Compare this to todays cameras and especially phone cameras in the latest generation flagship phones (f.ex.: the #P20 with its 40Mpx 3-sensor zoom setup and AI assisted image processing).

Zorki & Lumix FZ82 camera
Zorki & Lumix FZ82 camera
And this was merely roughly 20 years ago. Sure, there are still tasks like the framing of an image, the selection of a subject, etc but these will also be assisted to some extent by apps in the future (we already have facial/smile recognition why not teach the AI thirds and golden ratio?). Or the technology will be able to capture so much data (fex. very large images, with high dynamic range, multiple focus layers, angles) that everything will be handled in post-processing.

I can see the value of expensive photo-shoots diminishing over time, if they only rely on technical execution but do not add another value. Photographers are afraid of this future, and rightfully so.

Similarly designers are in the same boat. Even if we count only the digital age which I personally experienced because I was relatively late to the party.

Reach back to the days of 15 years ago, where the effect for “glow” was not a button click or a a layer-style in Adobe Photoshop. Or where optical kerning was not implemented in Adobe Illustrator. Remember a few years ago content aware scale or content aware fill did not exist and the guys at Adobe are currently working on intelligent assisted object removal for both PS and Adobe After Effects (something that is a specific job, with a person employed in it, in some production houses).

This is a clear erosion of the value of our technical skills, and the day is coming soon where we will not be needed for that part of the job, because anyone with an app will be able to create commercially viable art/designs/ads that are “good enough”.

There is a threshold of competency where additional technical skill is not added value, it’s overkill.

Technical skill over time - Diagram
Technical skill over time – Diagram

The problem isn’t you being replaced by a beep-boop robot, it’s you being replaced by anyone at all with an app.
Moving into the future, the value-add of the designer MUST be elsewhere than in the manual skill to perform a technical task, otherwise the profession will die within the next 20 years.
Vehemently denying the trend and sticking fingers in your ears is not a viable long-term solution!

 

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