Artificial intelligence is the famous term of our times — weʼve all read or heard about the improvements it can produce and the potential risks of it. While for some it signifies the highest form of technological achievement, for others it foreshadows the collapse of human work force as we know it. Thereʼs been endless discussions on how to implement the AI services onto various industries without causing massive job cuts and disrupting the general structure of society as we know it. However the challenge of how to preserve the value of human touch and creativity stands still. Especially after Amazon announced one of its recent projects — an AI fashion designer. Many were speculating that the concept of AIʼs application on creative thinking and design wouldnʼt happen until after we have a substantial level of its application on other, more elementary sectors.
Amazon is on the path to being the first company to replace stylists and designers with ever-so-chic AI algorithms. “Thereʼs been a whole move from companies like Amazon trying to understand how fashion develops in the world,” says Kavita Bala, a professor at Cornell University. “This is completely changing the industry.”
Amazon is not only developing its own clothing brands and investing in high quality photography for products but it will be launching its innovative project Prime Wardrobe as well. Prime Wardrobe lets customers try on clothes before buying them. Its Echo Look app will even give you feedback on your outfits.
But Amazon appears to be pushing that algorithmic approach even further. For instance, one group of Amazon researchers based in Israel developed machine learning that, by analysing just a few labels attached to images, can deduce whether a particular look can be considered stylish. The software could conceivably provide fashion feedback or recommendations for adjustments.
The work is innovative because computers usually require extensive labelling in order to learn from visual information. But in many real-world situations, such as an image posted to Instagram, there might be just one label.
An Amazon team at Lab126, a research center based in San Francisco, has developed an algorithm that learns about a particular style of fashion from images, and can then generate new items in similar styles from scratch — essentially, a simple AI fashion designer.
This work uses a cutting-edge tool called a generative adversarial network, or GAN. It consists of two deep neural networks operating in tandem to learn efficiently from raw data. The GAN internalises the properties of a particular style simply by looking at lots of examples, and it can then apply that style to an existing item of clothing. GANs, were developed by a researcher on the Google Brain team.
Both these projects were revealed at the workshop organised by Amazon. The event included mostly academic researchers who are exploring ways for machines to understand fashion trends. The company declined to comment on the projects.
Some at the workshop showed how the techniques being developed to track fashion trends could provide broader insights into human behavior.
Fashion designers probably shouldnʼt fret just yet, though. Oates and other point out that it may be a long time before a machine can invent a fashion trend. “People innovate in areas like music, fashion, and cinema,” he says.
“What we havenʼt seen is a genuinely new music or fashion style that was generated by a computer and really resonated with people.”
As a designer myself, I think that although the almighty “AI designer” might achieve a more commercially successful collection by scanning data, it will remain limited in artistic approach to the matter.