Matthew Maher as Peter Moore, Matt Damon as Sonny Vaccaro, and Jason Bateman as Rob Strasser in Air

Nike Should Watch ‘Air’ Before Moving Forward With AI-Designed Sneakers

Nike recently showcased several AI-designed sneakers in Paris. However, the company should consider watching the movie Air before moving forward in the direction of AI designs.

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Advancements in AI have led to the technology being incorporated into countless companies and industries. Even though it has been proven repeatedly that AI cannot compare to the value of human creativity and abstract thinking, some companies have persisted in using it. Technology is increasingly being used in factories, media companies, and Hollywood studios, all of which have adverse effects on humans. Using technology in factories, such as those for Tesla, frequently endangers lives due to humans and robots working at vastly different speeds. Meanwhile, artists, writers, performers, and more are finding themselves with even fewer creative opportunities due to the rise of AI-generated text, imagery, and audio—not to mention the ethical issues with AI using their work to function.

Hence, every time news arises that a huge company, like Disney, is utilizing AI instead of hiring artists, it tends to be met with high criticism. However, Nike is now openly showcasing its AI-designed sneakers despite the company’s success being built on human designs and determination.

Nike hints at an AI-designed future

Recently, Nike held a museum exhibition in Paris, where it showcased several AI-designed sneakers. One of the designs that got the most attention was Victor Wembanyama’s “A.I.R.” concept, which was designed utilizing data from the athlete. Wembanyama recently signed a deal with Nike and is gearing up to launch his own apparel line. Hence, there is speculation the A.I.R. design is a prototype for the athlete’s first signature sneaker. Video and images of the shoe designs quickly circulated on social media.

The actual design drew mixed reviews. It certainly looks different from anything Nike has made before and plays into the sci-fi theme Wembanyama’s line will employ with its alien logo. Some expressed excitement at the new designs Nike might be able to introduce through AI, while others roasted the designs for being some of the “ugliest things” Nike has created in a long time.

However, many internet users also voiced concern about Nike potentially laying off designers in favor of AI. Right now, it’s unclear if any of the shoes will even make it to the sales floor. Still, if this is a hint at the direction the company is going, it is concerning. While AI could be used to generate designs for humans to refine, there are lingering questions about what will happen as AI advances and where exactly it is getting the data to generate new designs. Is it pulling from and potentially stealing the designs of human artists?

One also must ask why Nike is incorporating AI when it has found success without it. The iconic Nike “Swoosh” design was created by one person, Carolyn Davidson, who was actually a graphic design college student when she created one of the most recognizable brand logos in history. The movie Air explores how several major figures in Nike made it the biggest shoe company in the world through their creativity and determination, capturing how Peter Moore designed the silhouette for the Air Jordan 1, which went on to bring Nike over $5 billion in sales.

Air also delves into how Sonny Vaccaro (Matt Damon) convinced Michael Jordan to choose Nike as his first sneaker deal. Only a human could’ve caught on to the sensation that the basketball rookie would become, and only a human could’ve taken the risks necessary to get the deal that turned Nike from a modest shoemaker into the powerhouse it is today. Meanwhile, the human element of Nike isn’t just found in its history. The company has always been about highlighting the biggest talents in the sporting world, who constantly push the limits and prove nothing is impossible. Its own tagline, “Just do it,” is meant to inspire everyone to do the impossible.

Yet, this same company was recently in Paris, hyping up its AI designs with little mention of human contributions. If humans can do anything, why does Nike need AI to design shoes? It feels especially absurd to utilize AI in fashion, given how obvious it was to internet users that humans did not create the strange designs they were looking at. Shouldn’t humans be the authority on human fashion? Isn’t it preferable to wear the designs of some legendary designer in the industry than something AI spits out? Maybe Air wouldn’t change Nike’s mind, but it makes it impossible to miss how Nike’s potential AI future goes against what the company is built on and stands for.

(featured image: Amazon Prime Video)


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Author
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.