Key Lessons From DTech’s AI Symposium

On Thursday, March 21, FIT’s DTech Lab hosted an AI Symposium for the creative industries to discuss how the rapidly evolving technology can transform the future of design and business. In front of a lively and engaged audience in the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre, innovators in artificial intelligence explored opportunities, ethics, and challenges in the field. Speakers included experts from Google, IBM, and AI creative studio Maison Meta, as well as entrepreneurs like alumna designer Norma Kamali.

Maison Meta presented case studies that featured the use of generative AI by major luxury brands. They also highlighted the work they are doing with Kamali. Marc Beckman, CEO of DMA United, a cutting-edge ad agency, and a professor at New York University, provided insights on the ethics of AI and large language models, emphasizing the importance of individual responsibility when using these tools. And representatives from IBM talked about their outward-facing and internal AI tools that focused on fashion, highlighting their comprehensive strategy of implementing internal governance in upholding trust.

Here are some top takeaways from the day.

1. Don’t be afraid of AI. Kevin Fried, managing director of Branded Apparel and Durables at Google, said that the company has been at the forefront of AI innovation—and that instead of seeing it as a threat, creatives should add it to their skill set. “AI is not replacing anyone,” he emphasized. “It’s a tool.”

2. Diversity needs to be purposeful. Carl-Axel Wahlstrom, creative director and founder of Copy, the world’s first fashion magazine that is entirely AI-generated, discovered that generative AI creates very homogeneous-looking people, not just in their race or ethnicity but also gender, age, and aesthetic perfection. He found that he has to be purposeful about asking for diversity in his prompts to the AI engine, and he retouches images to add skin texture and make the models look less perfect. He has also trained the AI generator to expand its diversity.

3. Artists wanted. “Creativity comes from the human’s input, not the tool’s output, the same as with an analog camera,” Wahlstrom says. He began his photography journey at the age of 10 when he was given his first camera; 30 years later, he founded Copy magazine and felt a similar creative freedom. He believes that just as photography reveals the skill of the artist behind the lens, AI-generated art relies on the creativity of the prompts.

4. Think big about AI’s power. Norma Kamali, founder of her eponymous brand, fashion icon, and FIT alumna, said she used AI as a way to expand the possibilities of her 56-year design archive, to let her designs “live beyond me.” She added, “The beauty of AI is it’s coming from this other world, so why not feed it your DNA, give it your energy and your spirit?”

Related Posts