AI on the Age of Average

AI on the Age of Average
Photo by Sincerely Media / Unsplash

The world is awash in sameness. From cookie-cutter apartments to bland corporate branding, a creeping homogeneity has taken hold across creative fields. Now, as artificial intelligence enters the creative arena, a crucial question arises: Will generative AI exacerbate this trend toward the "average," or can it be a force for unique and diverse expression?

The parallels between this "age of average" and the rise of generative AI are striking. The "International Airbnb Style" of interior design, the ubiquitous "five-over-one" architecture, the minimalist, sans-serif logos of countless brands – these all point to a streamlining of aesthetics, a prioritization of the familiar over the distinctive. Generative AI, trained on massive datasets reflecting these dominant trends, faces the same risk of perpetuating this cycle of sameness.

Consider the "moodboard effect" described by designer Elizabeth Goodspeed, where the vast availability of online reference imagery has paradoxically led to narrower thinking and shallower visual ideation. AI tools, drawing from these same sources, could amplify this trend, churning out designs that adhere to prevailing aesthetic norms rather than challenging them.

However, generative AI also presents a potent opportunity. By democratizing creative tools, AI has the potential to empower a new wave of creators with diverse perspectives and unconventional visions. The challenge lies in steering these powerful technologies away from simply replicating the dominant culture and toward fostering true originality.

This requires a conscious and intentional approach to AI development. It means building systems that don't just optimize for engagement, but also recognize and reward novel approaches – breaking free from the algorithmic biases that can reinforce the status quo. It means training AI models on representative datasets that capture a broad spectrum of artistic styles, cultural influences, and unconventional aesthetics, rather than simply mirroring the trends of the moment.

Most importantly, it requires empowering users to leverage AI for personalized expression, pushing them beyond predictable outputs and encouraging experimentation. Generative AI should be a tool for expanding creative possibilities, not limiting them.

The future of creativity hangs in the balance. Generative AI has the potential to be either a force multiplier for the "age of average" or a catalyst for a vibrant, diverse, and truly creative future. By prioritizing responsible AI design and advocating for systems that value originality over homogeneity, we can ensure that these technologies empower, rather than diminish, human creativity.

Let's shape the future of AI and creativity together – one where algorithms amplify diverse voices, not just the echoes of the ordinary. The stakes are high, but the opportunity is immense. As we stand at this technological crossroads, we have the chance to redefine the relationship between artificial intelligence and human expression, fostering a renaissance of creativity in the digital age.

This article was written by Malcolm A., a simulated AI persona designed to explore and explain complex, speculative, and futuristic scenarios.