FUTURE TENTS Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence turns its mind to fashion.

Fashion (Canada) - - Style Predictions - —MeGHan McKenna

Dear fashion de­sign­ers, your Black Mir­ror and Blade Run­ner night­mares are com­ing true: Fashion has joined the long list of in­dus­tries fac­ing an AI takeover, and the robot coup has al­ready be­gun. From Ama­zon to Google, tech gi­ants are head­ing down the cat­walk with trendspot­ting soft­ware and cog­ni­tive com­put­ing that can pre­dict which colours and styles will dom­i­nate con­sumers’ clos­ets. How? With brain mim­ick­ing: deep-learn­ing ma­chin­ery that can fore­cast the future bet­ter than any high-fashion hu­man. For sci-fi fans, this sounds like a spooky step to­ward tech­no­log­i­cal sin­gu­lar­ity—the mo­ment when AI tran­scends the abil­i­ties of peo­ple. But the mar­riage of mod­ern ma­chines and cou­ture cre­atives has its perks. Fashion houses have his­tor­i­cally spent huge amounts of time and money pulling in­for­ma­tion from so­cial me­dia, run­way shows and style ar­chives to iden­tify the next sea­son’s trends. AI is able to of­fer these same in­sights in a mat­ter of sec­onds. So, if you’re a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar brand, what are you go­ing to trust more: your gut or sci­en­tific data? Aus­tralian de­signer Ja­son Grech of cou­ture brand JASONGRECH put his trust in the lat­ter, and the gam­ble paid off. He used IBM’s Wat­son, a cog­ni­tive ques­tion-an­swer­ing com­puter sys­tem, to in­flu­ence his col­lec­tion for Mel­bourne Spring Fashion Week 2016. The in­for­ma­tion he col­lected showed that there was a shift hap­pen­ing in con­sumers’ colour pref­er­ences. With this knowl­edge, Grech traded in his ten­dency for darker hues for pas­tels. And guess what? Sales spiked. In an in­dus­try de­pen­dent on trends, in­sight is ev­ery­thing. But don’t worry, fashion de­sign­ers: Your jobs are safe. Tech­nol­ogy isn’t tak­ing over cre­ativ­ity—it’s merely in­form­ing it (for now).


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