By Jack Ogden
Back in 2014, I gave a talk at a New York conference on how the concept and realization of “design” in jewellery manufacture, in terms of art and innovation, changed through history.
Any talk encompassing all of history needs to briefly consider what is coming next. So, I showed the image in figure 1, a design for a bracelet and asked the audience (a) if they liked it and (b) if they recognised the designer. Some liked it, others didn’t, and there were even a few stabs at naming the designer. The truth was there was no real designer.
I generated the image shown in a 3d computer graphic program (RhinoTM ) using a then available plug-in that used randomly generated numbers to come up with the result shown.
Over the last decade things have advanced unbelievably fast, none more so than in artificial intelligence. The most obvious impact of AI on jewellery so far has been for research – the way Google search, and its equivalents, dig up ever more texts and images (providing one carefully chooses the search terms and parameters entered.) Advances in AI-generated art, producing images from input text, are now often reported in the media, illustrated by entertaining images generated by such input as “a monkey playing the trumpet painted in the style of Picasso”.
But on the serious side, the potential is being considered by many industries while commercial artists and designers are fearful, and lawyers are scratching their heads and buying larger wallets.
So, I show here four images (figures 2-6) of AI-generated jewellery.
The text inputs asked for gold earrings in an ancient Greek style, a gold ring in a modern style, brooches designed by Picasso and Van Gogh, and a diamond brooch like a twig. Those shown are the ones I liked best out of the half dozen or so I generated for each text input. The resolution is not great, but that is the software I use.
Whether you like these designs or not, they raise significant questions about the future impact of AI on jewellery design and designers. What If I entered an AI design generated from my text input in a jewellery design competition? Do my choice of text and my aesthetic judgement in choosing which of the generated designs I submit make the design “mine”?
Would the judges even know what questions they now need to ask me?
This is a real issue.
The day I am writing this I read of an example of AI-generated art winning a painting competition in the Colorado State Fair fine arts competition – to unprintable comments by some others who submitted more conventionally produced paintings.
Technology is always way ahead of the legislation or rules needed to deal with it. Anyway, we are probably too late.
If I can do this on a free phone app, just imagine what a major jewellery producer or designer might be up to using far more sophisticated systems.
The next step will be AI programs generating 3d forms so we could type text in at one end of a machine, click to approve one of the generated jewellery designs and then have the final 3d-printed form pop out of the other. Whether we judge all this as a threat or blessing will vary from individual to individual, but that has been true of all new technology since they invented the wheel. I’m intrigued by the possibilities, but then I’ve been into computers and computer graphics for some forty years and am fascinated now by the possibilities of AI in the jewellery world. It will be disruptive and not all in our industry will be happy, but all of us need to be aware of what is happening and ponder what impact it may have on what we do.