AI Is not Going to Reinvent the Alphabet Anytime Quickly

typography developed by synthetic intelligence is like lettering submerged in deep water, warped and fuzzy. It appears to be like like a replica of a replica of a replica. The phrases are recognizable, barely, however the authentic type has been misplaced. AI typography is, charitably, dangerous.

A latest instance of this phenomenon is Phrase-As-Picture for Semantic Typography, a paper through which nameless authors suggest a device that morphs textual content into a picture of what that textual content represents. Kind in “yoga,” for instance, and the phrase will seem garlanded with wobbly vectors of stretching ladies. The ensuing jagged, blurry textual content is emblematic of the shortcomings of AI sort. This experiment sacrifices readability and accessibility, two of the pillars of excellent sort design, in a misguided try to innovate. We may hardly anticipate way more from AI, nonetheless, when it has solely a surface-level understanding of how people learn.

As a designer and typographer of greater than 10 years, I’ve watched the progress of AI-powered design with a mix of amused curiosity and refined dread. The place typography is anxious, it’s turning into clear that AI improvements are specializing in the improper concepts. Proper now, some are enjoying with utilizing this know-how to attempt to redefine visible language—within the case of our Latin letterset, one which’s existed for over 2,000 years—however finally that is an unworkable course. The important thing to setting AI typography on a greater, extra accessible path is to think about it as assistive fairly than generative.

Phrase-As-Picture isn’t novel. After the Industrial Revolution introduced machines to the forefront of producing, designers in post-war Europe began exploring how know-how may affect the way forward for artwork and kind design. In his 1920 ebook Sprache and Schrift, engineer Walter Porstmann proposed that language might be amplified by introducing one character for each sound, ordered by tone, sound size, energy, and voice. László Moholy-Nagy on the Bauhaus later adopted and refined Porstmann’s idea, anticipating in 1925 that typography could be supplanted by developments in movie and, particularly, sound. In response, he instructed, typography wanted to evolve to specific these new applied sciences.

Maybe probably the most attention-grabbing response to Moholy-Nagy’s phonetic proposal was Kurt Schwitters’ Systemschrift. First printed in 1927, it was a unicase alphabet that used character weight to indicate phonetic emphasis, conveying vowel sounds with boldness. This experiment was exceptional for its visible eccentricity; it stood aside in a college that favored extra standardized typography. However that doesn’t imply it was efficient. Not even Schwitters used these phonetic parts in his personal work.

each AI sort and these Twentieth-century typographic improvements, one can fairly ask: Who is that this for? Actually not readers. However like earlier experiments that fused know-how and typography, it’s potential that AI could lead on designers to create higher sort. If AI can be utilized to assist typographers, fairly than to attempt to supplant them, generative fashions may simply be a blip on the best way to a extra environment friendly and accessible use of this know-how as an assistive device within the sort design course of. 

Consider how the digital revolution put typography within the palms of everybody with a pc and made the method of making it extra environment friendly than ever. AI might be utilized in related methods, aiding typographers and making their work extra accessible. But it surely’s vital to think about the place to position that help. 

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