LONDON — Do you remember your first email address? Mine was firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around this time exactly 30 years ago, I was a first year undergraduate student at McGill University in Montréal. When we arrived on campus we were able to sign up for internet access and request an email address. I did not know what the internet was or what an email address was for, but I signed up anyway.
The internet was still in its infancy. There were no search engines, so it was hard to find your way around. I would sometimes use dial-up internet access from home to scroll through bulletin boards looking for conversations that might interest me. Only a couple of my friends had their own email addresses. We would send each other messages while we were standing next to each other at terminals in the library, saying not much at all. It was a novelty but I was fascinated by how it might develop.
No one could have predicted that 30 years later we would all be carrying around powerful mini-computers everywhere that use the internet to help us stay in touch with our family and friends, to order cars driven by strangers, to research just about any question that comes to mind, to help us navigate unknown cities, to buy clothes from stores all around the world — and countless other functions that we take for granted. The internet is woven into every fibre of our daily lives.
One day, the same might be true for artificial intelligence. Computers are already learning how to make the internet work better for us, to give us better answers to the questions on our minds, and even give us information and recommendations before we have asked for them.
This is just the beginning. Like the internet back in 1993, AI is still in its infancy. It’s impossible to predict exactly where it will take us, but things are developing quickly and in many incredible ways. No wonder fashion executives can’t stop talking about AI.
This week, I’d like to share some of the BoF articles and case studies I have found most useful in learning about the opportunities artificial intelligence could create for the fashion industry, as well as some of the other resources I’ve been using to get my head around how AI works — and the risks that need to be mitigated as the technology enters the mainstream.
1. The Complete Playbook for Generative AI in Fashion: From ChatGPT to Midjourney to Runway, generative AI is already showing why it could be one of the most consequential technological innovations in decades for the fashion industry. Marc Bain’s case study unpacks the opportunities and challenges of putting generative AI to use to design products, create campaigns and other content, and better connect with customers.
2. The AI Dilemma: This fascinating talk by Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin from The Center of Humane Technology — who also brought us The Social Dilemma on Netflix — offers powerful insights on “how existing A.I. capabilities already pose catastrophic risks to a functional society, how A.I. companies are caught in a race to deploy as quickly as possible without adequate safety measures, and what it would mean to upgrade our institutions to a post-A.I. world.”
3. Generative AI Won’t Be the End of Human Fashion Designers: A new technology is threatening to upend an entire creative field and automate away human skill and invention. The statement might reflect the current fears about generative artificial intelligence, but it also describes how many artists and critics felt about the invention of photography in the 19th century. Just as photography didn’t spell the extinction of painting, generative AI won’t kill off human designers. It may even create more appreciation for the physical craft of fashion.
4. How AI and Web3 Are Shaping Fashion’s Future: Earlier this year, BoF welcomed business leaders, technologists and creative innovators from Hyran Technologies, Levi’s and Quilt.AI to share their insights on how artificial intelligence will reshape the way fashion works. The insights and learnings are as relevant today as they were back in March. Watch on-demand now.
On Sept. 6 in New York, I am speaking at The AI-volution of Culture, an event hosted by our friends at Quilt.AI with use cases across food, beauty, finance, consumer goods, and of course, fashion. We will also be revealing the latest developments in our ongoing partnership with Quilt.AI, who have kindly provided me with a limited number of free tickets. Click here to join us in person (or online) and use the code ‘BoFxQuilt’.
The BoF Podcast
Public perception of artificial intelligence ranges widely. Depending on who you’re listening to, it could be a source of unlimited technological potential or a dire threat right out of a science fiction novel.
According to Mo Gawdat, the former chief business officer for Google X, concerns about AI are valid. But fears that AI will turn against humanity are misguided. Rather, says Gawdat, we have an opportunity to teach AI to be a force for good.
In this talk from BoF VOICES 2022, Mo discusses the future of AI and why ethics are crucial to managing its development.
I’m taking a holiday in advance of Fashion Month in September, so this weekly briefing will be on hiatus for the next couple of weeks while I rest and recharge.
All my best,
Imran Amed, Founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, The Business of Fashion
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