Researching how technological automation affects creative work is similar to exploring the reciprocal dynamics in the relationship between technology and creativity.

Every manmade thing, every piece of technology that has been created since the dawn of human kind, has gone through a certain creative or design process. Because of this very close relationship between technology and creativity (you could very well ask if technology is actually a form of creativity), it is quite easy to end up in an analytical thought loop.

Although ‘technology’ is fairly easy to define because of its scientific character, when it comes to ‘creativity’ it seems there are still many problems to solve.
References for this research are collected from many different areas in science and technology such as sociology, computer science, cognitive psychology, design theory, computational theory of mind, logics, philosophy of technology and from the author’s own experience in the field of digital design, new media and the fine arts.

There is a huge change on the way in the shape of automated tools that use A.I. to enhance or, partially or entirely, replace problem finding, inspiration and stimuli gathering, intuition and decision making, experience and skill acquisition, content creation and distribution, and of course production.

However, this study focuses on how technological progress influences creative work via increasingly autonomous creative support tools, devices and systems and how creativity in its turn then expands technology to the next level, out of a need for more efficiency and product.

This thesis aims its observation towards the automation of creative work, in combining creativity and technology questions, at the time when designers use technological support tools to design and create.

New developments within the study of artificial intelligence, affective computing, neuroscience and creative cognition have shown that there is considerable progress within the field of automation of creativity and design. This development will directly affect the way we produce creative work, specifically within forms of design where the end product is of an intangible, ‘digital’ nature or entirely ‘virtual’. The rise of new technology brings a discontinuity of universal values. This happens everywhere, but in this case where the need for technological is high.

Visual research already shows that each new technology has seen a shift in contemporary graphic design aesthetics and design historians have made detailed studies of the impact of each change in both working methods and materials (Noble and Bestley, 2004).

Design processes have always been in a state of transformation, from objects, ideograms, printing, type, graphics to computer information and interactions. Recently, even the business and managerial world have taken over some analytical ideas of design theory within the new discipline of ‘design thinking’.

The goal of this thesis is two fold. First is to show the historical role of automation in design or creative work, from whence a map or taxonomy can be drawn up to define the Levels of Automation (LoA) in the creative industry today, more specifically in the process of ‘New Media Design’. Questions arise insofar as which area of design the automation really happens, and why it seems to need it and use it so much. By showing that automation has always existed within the creative process throughout the early evolution of simple creative tools to smarter, more autonomous technological systems, it is necessary to give it in its relevant place. Automation is not the demonic life devouring monster it is believed to be.

Secondly it is necessary to devise an assessment or guidelines, for the use of automated tools and systems within new media design and to show how new developments in artificial intelligence and robotics could strongly influence the future of creative work. A disruption to the process of creation or design is on its way. Do we need to reassess the values and essential contribution of design? When will the levels of automation reach their summit? Where exactly is the threshold when control and autonomy are left behind?

This article is part of The Automated Designer, a research topic studied for the author’s MBA thesis paper at The Berlin School of Creative Leadership.