AI: is it just buzz or is it really changing the web design world?

On: September 16, 2015
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About Izumi Otsuka


“A.I. Websites. Build for Humans.”  


The Grid’s add banners

It has been quite a while since the non-stop futuristic flashy banners began showing up on my browser. The Grid is an AI web-builder that will build a website for you in a couple of minutes by using layout filters instead of templates. Their AI reads your images and text, and builds a sophisticated website much faster than other popular web-builders such as WordPress, Wix or Squarespace, which are widely used by non-technical users. The process promises to be as easy as a social network page update. That sounds fascinating, but how does it work? I am sure that millions of people on this planet are thrilled enough to click on the flashy banners to see how the AI builder works.


The Grid’s add banners

Now they do?  NO, not yet!

Well, disappointingly it is not public yet. They kicked off their crowdfunding promotional campaign and half-promised that their platform would launch sometime during Spring 2015. As of September 2015, it still seems to be in the middle of the user testing process. The emotional tweets between the pre-paid users and The Grid’s development team indicate that some users are still fascinated and pushing for it to go live as soon as possible. However, some users seem to have lost their patience and are requesting refunds, although refunds are clearly not promised in the FAQ page“Payments, including Founding Memberships, are non-refundable”.

A small number of pre-paid funding members seem to have access to the beta version, and there are some videos of a demo site created by one of the lucky pre-paid users (#83) on YouTube. However, over 55,000 pre-paid users are still waiting. It appears that part of the problem is caused by their poor communication. Their website’s information regarding product launch dates and bandwidth limitations is vague and noncommittal; thus, the whole idea seems more like a Kickstarter project. However, if you consider young CEO Dan Tocchini and his team, you can see that they are all young start-up types who have unexpectedly amazing potential; at the same time, some might conclude that they have made promises they have been unable to keep.

The time has come; will AI take over human work?

Because AI requires the same information that humans need to sustain themselves and evolve (speech, vision, and emotion etc.), one might ask: are all of these components built into, and under the control of, this AI website tool? That seems too good to be true.

The Grid team has sent tweets that excuse the delay by noting that truly amazing development takes time, which is a valid point. An impressive group of people seem to work behind The Grid — Brian Axe, ex-director at Google, Henri Bergius, a content management engineer, Leigh Taylor, ex-design lead at Medium, (Forbes), and investors include Greg Badros, Facebook co-founder, John Pleasants, ex-president of Disney Interactive, and Nick Roach, Elegant Themes founder (TechCrunch). This list makes people think that The Grid could really be something different — a truly amazing platform that could completely change the world of web design. The super intelligent algorithm thinks, reflects, makes decisions, and helps websites build themselves, while making small adjustments for you in a minute during your coffee break. Well, if The Grid truly has these capabilities, then the question becomes: what is left for humans to design? In a FAQ interview, CEO Dan Tocchini comments:

What we want is for you to treat The Grid as a designer. You send your content to the designer, they come up with some ideas, then send it back.
 (iwantmyname domain blog)

Yet designers need to provide content – photos and text to be passed on to machines to define the intentions of the website. Interestingly, The Grid questions this process on their pitch website which itself built by their AI builder:

Can you replace a human designer with artificial intelligence and machine learning? That’s the question, more or less, which will likely plague The Grid long after the company launches its new website creation and hosting platform. (The Grid)

Is this merely an implication of how amazing their new platform is, or an example of AI taking over human tasks? Microsoft founder Bill Gates expressed his fear of AI on BBC News, stating that “Humans should be worried about the threat posed by artificial intelligence.” His views were influenced by Prof. Stephen Hawking’s warning of the threat of AI. (BBC)

Stephen Hawking:’AI could spell end of the human race’ (Source:LiveTV)

Anthony Wing Kosner introduced The Grid in a Forbes article about the Grid in Oct 2014, saying that the AI web builder is “half-true,” “but for the non-technical user, it’s all magic” (Forbes). If The Grid is really an example of AI, in that it’s a self-learning brain machine that keeps improving itself as well as the user’s website, it may not be too long before machines (AI) take over human tasks, and humans (designer or users) will be controlled by the machines. However, at this point, how can we judge? The evolutionary product is not yet available to the public, still in progress, and may forever be in progress.

Like AI?


Iwantmyname domain blog, Chris Hall, “The Grid – AI Websites That Design Themselves.”
Accessed September 10, 2015.

BBC News, Kevin, Rawlinson, “Microsoft’s Bill Gates Insists AI Is a Threat.”
Accessed September 10, 2015.

Fast Company, Tyler Hayes, “The Grid Is The Website Of The Future: It Builds Itself.”
Accessed September 8, 2015.

Forbes, Kosner Anthony Wing. “The Grid Website Platform Automatically Adapts Design To Make Your Content Shine.” Accessed September 9, 2015.
<>, Benjie Moss. “Is The Grid a Better Web Designer than You?”
Accessed September 8, 2015.

Jonathan Irons, on YouTube “The Grid Q&A with Dan Tocchini IV.”
Accessed September 8, 2015., Frederic Lardinois “The Grid Raises $4.6M For Its Intelligent Website Builder”Accessed September 8, 2015.

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