Shop Talk Podcast Episode 11: Zack Freedman on the Limitations of AI

Muna Idriss Muna Idriss April 9, 2024

2 min read

Welcome to this episode of Shop Talk, a podcast from the team at Autodesk Fusion where we catch up with designers and makers live from their workshops. Whether you’re a Fusion fan curious about what our users are doing or simply looking for something to listen to in your own shop, we’re bringing you candid conversations with talented designers who pour their hearts and souls into their craft. In this episode, maker and Autodesker Jonathan Odom speaks with Zack Freedman.

From his Voidstar Labs, Zack uses his background in prototyping to develop electronics (both wearable and not), push the limits of 3D printing, and generally create whatever his heart desires. The conversation we have is candid, wide-ranging, and full of hot takes!

Below is a short excerpt from the conversation to give you a taste of what to expect. You can also listen to the full episode below:

This excerpt is edited for brevity and clarity.

What are your thoughts on AI?

I think, when it comes to text, image, or video generation, we’re close to as good as it needs to get. There are a couple problems, however. First, it can never make anything better than source material without extensive human involvement. The second thing is because it can’t make anything original, it’s not possible to win with these tools. You can’t win on quality, right? If you are good enough to correct its mistakes, you might as well just do it yourself. You can’t win on novelty because it doesn’t have novelty.

What we consider AI right now is good at generating bulk stuff. There are some uses for this! Back in the day when I was trying to be a game designer, the game design idea I had was a card game. It was a Magic, the Gathering type thing. I realized a big problem I would have with making a card game is that I don’t have artwork. I needed something like 200 cards, right, to make enough variety, but I couldn’t commission 200 pieces of art on an indie game budget. At the time, I think I calculated I could commission 20 pieces of art, plus all the models and music and stuff. But if I were to do a card game now, I could use a generative model and generate tons of card art.

Or if you’re the type of person who has a hard time with a blank sheet of paper, you could have a generative system write a bad version of your essay, and then you can read it, and hate it, and in your rage, you end up writing the real deal. This sounds silly, but I know a lot of people write like that. There are uses for AI, but the product is just not good enough to connect the AI hose directly into the content funnel. You have to do some stuff along the way.  

Stay tuned for the next episode of Shop Talk. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, catch up on any episodes you missed, and get your audio-only fix on Spotify.

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