Dr. Sethi speaks about AI at second edition of Global Futures Lecture Series

Demystifying the apprehensions and explaining the opportunities offered by Artificial Intelligence in the field of design, Dr. Suresh Sethi, professor, School of Art and Design, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, held the audience in rapt attention at the India Habitat Centre, delivering the second edition of the Global Futures Lecture series. 

In a lecture titled, 'The New Landscape: Design in the Times of Dall-E, Midjourney and ChatGPT,' Dr. Sethi said that designers would play a crucial role in training Artificial Intelligence (AI) models. Dismissing that AI tools would replace designers in the near future, he said, "AI is an important tool that needs to be added to the design palette. It catalyses human evolution, enhancing intelligence, and AI will only enable us to innovate. Certain aspects of design, particularly those involving creative and social intelligence, will remain uniquely human. AI empowers us to return to the drawing board to start afresh and design a harmonious future where an individual resonates within the fabric of a global narrative."

Debunking fears of AI replacing humans, Dr. Sethi said that the soul was the subjective element that a designer brings to the table and in that journey, one integrates elements of personal expressions with written words. Dismissing concerns that AI systems may lead to a loss of creativity, critical thinking skills, and intuition, he said that AI could only aggregate existing designs. "This makes their output lacking flair and appear outdated. AI can't replicate the output of teamwork, collaboration and emotional intelligence."

Answering a query from Dr. Diviani Chaudhuri, Assistant Professor, Department of English, on how language input was crucial for an effective output from AI, Dr. Sethi said that being a good communicator was the fundamental requirement for a designer. "As AI tools are based on prompts, it's essential to overcome the constraints of what the model offers with language skills."

Explaining the idea behind the university's Global Futures Lecture series, Dr. Ananya Mukherjee, Vice-Chancellor of Shiv Nadar University, said, "The Global South should have a strong voice in creating global futures. Often, these issues are detached from the realities faced by most of the world. Unless we are in charge of our future, it's a very disempowering process where we become passive participants in an idea traded elsewhere."

Acknowledging how India needs to create new narratives and provide fresh solutions, Dr. Sethi said, "Right now is the time we should take leadership. India is now creating technology. We have the power now, and if we don't learn quickly, India will miss the boat." 

Thanking Dr. Sethi for his lecture, Dr. Prakash Kumar, Associate Professor Department of Design, said, "The interaction will help students better understand the challenges that AI throws at students."

Earlier, welcoming Dr. Sethi, Professor Rajat Kathuria, Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, introduced the audience to the speaker. 

The university's first Global Futures Lecture saw Professor Sheila Jasnoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, speaking on 'Progress without Progressivism – Engineering Futures in the 21st Century,' in April this year.