AI’s Impact on Design, the U.S. Spurs UN to Take Action on Global AI Regulation

A review of John Maeda's 2024 "Design in Tech" report and how AI impacts the design profession.
"The AI Economy," a newsletter exploring AI's impact on business, work, society and tech.
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In the age-old tale, “The Sky Is Falling,” Chicken Little’s outcry epitomizes a common misconception about impending doom. Uncertainty surrounds the outcome, particularly around artificial intelligence, where fears of job displacement run rampant. Among those potentially affected, the design profession stands out. However, in this week’s edition, we review how designers need not fear AI and how they can actively shape the technology’s positive impact on humanity.

Plus, the U.S. leads a coalition of nations to push the UN to embrace AI regulation, a look at the copyright infringement lawsuits plaguing AI companies and read how OpenAI’s CTO Mura Murati responded when asked how the company’s text-to-video generation tool Sora’s gets its training data.

The Prompt

For ten years, John Maeda has published “Design in Tech,” an in-depth analysis exploring how the design profession in Silicon Valley is changing. At the 2024 South by Southwest festival, Microsoft’s Vice President of Design and Artificial Intelligence released his latest report, highlighting the profound concerns regarding AI’s impact on the workforce.

Should designers protest against, compete with, or collaborate with AI? This question is central to Maeda’s analysis. In his 97-slide presentation, he offers three key takeaways aimed at helping designers navigate this existential dilemma with clarity.

Speak Machine

No, learning how to code is now what’s suggested here. Instead, Maeda advocates for computational design — an approach built around algorithms and computing, appropriate for the AI era. Designers are urged to stay informed about new technologies and to recognize they’re important in fostering inclusivity in AI.

Career-Shifts Will Happen, But Timing May Vary

Some jobs, more than others, will be impacted by AI. But Maeda posits that the pace of this change will differ for each individual. He references “makers” versus “talkers”. The former are developers and designers — creators — while the latter are product people and management — those who build businesses and revenue. AI will significantly change the lives of “makers” while improving the lives of “talkers,” Maeda claims.

Design Helps Make AI More Desirable

Finally, he makes a push for human-AI collaboration. Doing so could result in an improved form of criticality, enhancing our ability to assess the impact of AI and create more ethically responsible systems.

What do you think: Are you in favor of protesting against AI or collaborating with it?

Read more about John Maeda’s 2024 “Design in Tech” report

A Closer Look

Days after the European Union Parliament adopted landmark legislation to regulate AI, the U.S. has introduced a draft resolution in the United Nations, calling on the world body to help ensure the technology is “safe, secure and trustworthy” while providing equal access to all countries.

As reported by the Associated Press: “The draft recognizes the rapid acceleration of AI development and use and stresses ‘the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems.’ It also recognizes that the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area’ that needs further discussions on possible governance approaches.”

Fifty-four member nations, along with the U.S., are co-sponsoring this legislation, following months of direct talks and negotiations. Signatories include Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the EU. However, because this is a General Assembly resolution, it will not be legally binding if passed — only those from the Security Council are.

This is not the first statement made by the UN about AI. In 2021, all 193 countries adopted a historic agreement defining the common values and principles needed for the healthy development of AI. Though AI is viewed as a positive contribution to humanity, the organization wants to mitigate risk.

Should the U.S.-led resolution pass through the General Assembly, it’ll provide a clearer picture of the world’s attitudes toward AI’s proliferation. But without measurable action, it’s all talk. Lawmakers in the U.S. have been debating the impact of AI for months without legislation — Congress has held multiple hearings with social media companies and threatened regulation only to fail to agree to anything.

Hopefully, a strong statement from the global community, plus the EU’s regulation, will spur individual countries to take action to impose rules on AI usage, ensuring the betterment of humanity and not its destruction.

Today’s Visual Snapshot

Image credit: AI Fray
Image credit: AI Fray

This week, rather than presenting just one graph or chart, I have three to share, all interconnected, shedding light on a burgeoning concern affecting major LLM providers: Allegations of copyright violations. AI Fray, a website focused on AI regulation, published a three-page diagram highlighting key cases brought so far against OpenAI, Microsoft, Nvidia, Alphabet and Meta.

Image credit: AI Fray
Image credit: AI Fray

As the outlet notes: “A number of claims have already been thrown out from some of those cases, and presumably more of them will be thrown out. If the training of AI models is deemed fair use, the most important claims will be history, but it may take a while before all of this is litigated until the end. Sooner or later the Supreme Court will probably hear an AI copyright case.”

It will take a considerable amount of time before a standard if one ever emerges, is established to prevent copyright claims and becomes litigated in the courts. Nonetheless, these diagrams depict how AI companies consume content they perceive as free, solely based on its availability for public reading online.

Image credit: AI Fray
Image credit: AI Fray

We shouldn’t be surprised at these lawsuits because these cases bear some similarities to the war recording companies waged on music streaming services and even some social media platforms.

In the age of AI, some top websites are fighting back, prohibiting firms like OpenAI and Google from utilizing their content to train their models. However, despite this, some AI companies have tried to minimize their liabilities by negotiating agreements with publishers and services, granting permission to use their data.

Quote This

Joanna Stern: “What data was used to train Sora?”

Mira Murati: “We used publicly available data and licensed data…”

JS: “So videos on YouTube?”

MM: “I’m actually not sure about that.”

JS: “Videos from Facebook? Instagram?”

MM: “You know, if they were publicly available to use, there might be the data, but I’m not sure. I’m not confident about it.”

JS: “What about Shutterstock?”

MM: “I’m just not going to go into the details of the data that was used, but it was publicly available or licensed data.”

— During an interview, OpenAI’s Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati spoke with Joanna Stern from the Wall Street Journal. Murati seemed unsure about the data being used to train OpenAI’s text-to-video generation tool, which is still in development.

Neural Nuggets

🏭 Industry Insights

🤖 Machine Learning

✏️ Generative AI

☁️ Enterprise and Industrial

⚙️ Hardware, Robotics and Autonomous Devices

🔬 Science and Breakthrough

💼 Business and Marketing

📺 Media and Entertainment

💰 Funding

⚖️ Copyright and Regulatory Issues

💥 Disruption and Misinformation

🔎 Opinions and Research

End Output

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