Who’s Afraid Of AI? Senior Creatives, Mostly

A new Adobe survey finds that junior creatives tend to think AI is going to augment their abilities, while senior creatives think it’s coming for their jobs.

Who’s Afraid Of AI? Senior Creatives, Mostly
[Source Images: Glenn Carstens-Peters/Unsplash (photo), StudioM1/iStock (pattern)]

Is artificial intelligence coming for designers’ jobs?


Your answer might depend on whether you’re a junior-level creative or a senior-level creative, according to a new Adobe survey. The survey, which asked 600 creative workers at agencies about different elements of their jobs, showed that 44% of junior creatives aren’t afraid of AI taking over elements of their jobs compared with 28% of senior creatives. Meanwhile, 48% of senior creatives believe AI will subsume their responsibilities within the next 5 to 10 years; just 26% of junior creatives felt the same way.

It’s a striking disparity that seems largely dependent on age. While Ashley Still, the vice president of Adobe’s Creative Cloud for enterprise, said that the survey didn’t include any questions about age, the more production-focused junior level roles are typically filled by younger designers, while those at the senior level tend to be older. The results gesture toward a generational divide between optimistic young designers and senior-level colleagues who seem more pessimistic about how AI will change the creative industry.

The truth is that no one knows exactly how artificial intelligence will shape the profession in 10 years, but the role AI plays in design today may help explain the generational discrepancy. Companies that make creative tools, including Adobe, are focused on automating mundane tasks, like tagging graphics and searching for lines in an image–the sort of jobs that typically fall to junior, not senior, creatives. As a result, junior designers may feel more comfortable using the technology; it makes their jobs easier.

“[Junior creatives] are the people receiving the benefit of AI and machine learning built into the tools,” Still says. “That’s not going to replace someone’s job, that’s going to help them find the exact graphic or picture they’re looking for. No one went to design school to tag content or worry about file names.”

Senior designers, on the other hand, may not be as familiar with the technology so they may be more skeptical about its capabilities.

“It’s not surprising to see the next generation of designers’ optimism around AI. Junior designers are new to their roles and have less ingrained processes,” Eric Snowden, senior director of design at Adobe, tells Co.Design in an email. “Senior designers are often more apprehensive because they’ve already found a good process, so the bar to prove something is better is much higher.”

About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor at Co.Design based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.