Design in the Age of Synthetic Realities

0f6ccdd935ce93750fcc527764c7abfc?s=47 Andy Polaine
August 29, 2019

Design in the Age of Synthetic Realities

Presentation at UX Australia 2019

AI-generated and mixed realities are blurring the boundaries of “truth” and challenging how we value it. Synthetic Realities have reached new heights of sophistication, sparking controversy, and also fascination, about its creative possibilities.

Customers will increasingly expect brands to meet them halfway to supplement the realities they desire. Next, they will expect reality to adapt to them in real time without any conscious request. And the role of designers will be to set the stage on which these experiences happen, often curating AI systems rather than designing themselves.

UX practitioners face the double task of designing the interfaces to these new products, tools and services as well as seeing design for digital disrupted as radically as the invention of Photoshop and desktop publishing did three decades ago. If anyone can summon up an entirely generated image or an interface just by speaking its description, what is the future role of the designer?

The mixture of fear and fascination of the power of synthetic media is understandable but wrongly frames its future trajectory. This talk takes a view on synthetic realities not as something brand new, but the latest iteration of a long history of re-defining truth and reality through media manipulation.

Using visually compelling examples from the latest research and work in synthetic and generated media and charting their convergence, we'll see just how quickly they will be absorbed by culture, radically shake-up the fields of design, advertising and marketing in a very short time-frame, and transform the role of future designers and creatives. It raises important questions of design, ethics, and craft that the UX and broader design community will have to find answers to pretty damn quickly.


Andy Polaine

August 29, 2019