The Shortcomings of AI Typography and the Need for Assistive Technology

The Shortcomings of AI Typography and the Need for Assistive Technology

...By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made progress in many fields, but its impact on typography has been largely unimpressive.


AI-generated typography often appears as warped and fuzzy lettering, reminiscent of a copy of a copy of a copy.

A recent example of this is the Word-As-Image for Semantic Typography, in which text is morphed into an image representing the text’s meaning.

While innovative, this technique sacrifices readability and accessibility, which are two essential aspects of good type design.

Such experiments reflect AI’s surface-level understanding of how humans read.

As a designer and typographer with over ten years of experience, I have observed the progress of AI-powered design with a mix of amusement and dread.

The AI innovations in typography are focusing on the wrong ideas.


Currently, some designers are trying to redefine visual language with this technology, which is not a feasible course of action.

To make AI typography more accessible, it must be thought of as assistive rather than generative.

Word-As-Image is not a new concept.

In the 20th century, designers in post-war Europe explored how technology could impact the future of art and type design.

They proposed new concepts that could amplify language and express new technologies.

One of the most intriguing proposals was Kurt Schwitters’ Systemschrift, a unicase alphabet that used character weight to denote phonetic emphasis, conveying vowel sounds with boldness.

Though remarkable for its visual eccentricity, it was not very effective.

When comparing AI type and the 20th-century typographic innovations, the question arises: Who is this for? Certainly not for readers.


But like earlier experiments that fused technology and typography, AI could lead to better typography.

AI can be used to assist typographers, making their work more efficient and accessible. It can be applied in ways similar to how the digital revolution put typography in the hands of everyone with a computer.

However, it is crucial to consider where to place that assistance.

AI should be used to help typographers, rather than to try to replace them.

If AI is employed as an assistive tool in the type design process, it could lead to a more efficient and accessible use of this technology.

AI-powered design has a long way to go in typography, but with the right approach, it could revolutionize the field for the better.


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