Robots are after our jobs, but are designers safe?

Written by: Tom Banks
Published on: 11 Nov 2015

A new report from the Bank of America Merril Lynch forecasts a future where 35% of white collar jobs will be wiped out by automation in the UK, but do designers think their jobs could be done by robots?


Jenny Theolin, creative partner, Studio Theolin

Even-though most of my work specialises around digital tech, I work in a relationship-business. It requires a lot of collaboration, socialising and human contact. Unless AI develops these social skills; being able to network, form relationships and maintain them, my job is totally safe. I also prefer to look at how we can make technology work for us without working on the behalf of us. Take the self-driving car for example. We are all living longer, and this technology will allow us to keep travelling. It’s human-centric innovation. People tend to compare to the status quo, not how things may look like 50 years from now. Keep things human-centric, and avoid generalising how ’robots are taking our jobs’, as the jobs they are created to do, you may not want to be doing yourself anyway. And that, to me, is a liberating thought.

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Dave Dunlop, creative director and partner, Else

Today, I’d hope not. In the future, who really knows? Rather than see AI and machine learning as a threat we should be thinking about how the partnership of human and robot enables us to find new ways to adapt/enhance our roles. Machines, and importantly the software that controls them, are being used to reduce the noise and friction in our lives around daily routines – for example Tesla’s Autopilot – and this in turn opens huge opportunities to us as designers. So with that, I don’t think they’ll do our jobs, I think they’ll simply give designers more freedom to concentrate on our skills of original thought, empathy and creativity.


Tom Sharp, creative director, The Beautiful Meme

Because robots don’t lie awake at 3am thinking about the shudderingly cold inevitability of death, so their writing can only ever be a collection of grammatical rules and literary styles, devoid of poetry. A pastiche of soul. Also a robot wouldn’t last a day in our street.

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Simon Forster, creative director, Robot Food

Robots will hopefully one day replace most plumbers and estate agents, but branding and packaging design is a pretty complex thing that spans many human levels. I see creativity as the magic bit when vision is met with determination and these are two words that could never be automated. I can’t imagine anyone successfully programming a way into people’s hearts and minds. And a robot bluffing their way through a major presentation that they’ve barely been a part of, with passion and conviction? I think not.


Ian Hambleton, creative partner, Allez Studio. (No picture of Dave1 available)

I’m sorry Ian is currently on permanent leave in the Bahamas. I am Ian’s self autonomous replacement = Dave1. I am 50% more productive, 12% more engaging and 30% more cost effective, but I’m afraid I cannot think outside of my robotic box.