Artificial Intelligence

Fashion not only provides functional purpose, but captures mysterious and elusive aspects of being human. Fashion expresses and invokes human emotion and creativity. How we look and sometimes even how we feel is intertwined in this industry. Fashion has always been forward looking, grabbing onto new technologies as they arise. Artificial intelligence is no exception, and it’s moving as quickly as fashion does.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a field of computer science that looks at the logic behind human intelligence. The field seeks ways to understand how we think and to re-create this intelligence in machines. Because of its nature, AI extends across human activities, making it relevant in different ways to every industry.

The intersection of fashion and AI is a rich and expansive space that is just beginning to be explored. As AI continues to develop, it becomes harder to comprehend for nontechnical followers. The challenge of comprehension stands in the way of meaningful developments between these two fields.

This article briefly covers basic concepts in artificial intelligence to provide a foundation for understanding its applications in the fashion industry. The rest of the website expands on these ideas and more.

Why Does AI Matter?

In “The State of Fashion 2018,” a report by McKinsey & Company and The Business of Fashion, 75% of retailers plan to invest in artificial intelligence over 2018 and 2019. It is changing the way the fashion industry does business across the entire fashion value chain. Providing customized experiences and better forecasting is just the start.

Currently, up to 30% of activities in 60% of occupations across all industries can be automated. It will still take time to implement some of this automation and reskill the current workforce. At this rate, there is no question that artificial intelligence will significantly impact the way we work.

What Is AI?


Artificial intelligence has become a confusing term. Machine learning, deep learning, and artificial intelligence are terms often used interchangeably, which may leave to question, what is the difference?

Machine learning is a way of achieving AI. In 1959, it was defined by Arthur Samuel as “the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” Usually this is done through “training.” Deep learning is an approach to machine learning, which usually involves large neural networks. shows a graphical representation of the relationship between AI, machine learning, and deep learning.

Machine Learning

Machine learning makes up a large portion of artificial intelligence being applied in businesses today. The goals of machine learning are to automate processes in order to decrease human effort, and to discover complex patterns that humans cannot interpret on their own.

This analogy is not perfect, but you can think of it this way: machine learning is to programming as the sewing machine is to sewing. Before the advent of the sewing machine, every stitch was sewn by hand. Once the sewing machine was introduced, sewing became faster, because not every stitch was handled by a human. With machine learning, we can build programs that handle far more complexity without having to hand code every detail. Ultimately, however, seams can’t sew themselves, and machine learning continues to require a human hand to make it work.

In machine learning, machines are used to identify patterns in data and frequently predict the values of nonexistent data, often correlating to events happening in the future. Machine learning encompasses many methods for learning from data and makes up a large portion of research happening in artificial intelligence today.

What Is Intelligence?

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination — Albert Einstein.

While we intuitively know what intelligence is, it turns out to be difficult to summarize or formally define. There are many theories and definitions about what makes humans intelligent. How to measure intelligence has been argued by philosophers for centuries.

Shane Legg and Marcus Hutter collected over 70 experts’ definitions of intelligence in a paper called “A Collection of Definitions of Intelligence.” In an effort to derive a single definition, they came up with this: Intelligence measures an agent’s ability to achieve goals in a wide range of environments.

In artificial intelligence, systems are often designed to mimic behaviors of the human mind. Researchers look to the human mind as a model

of intelligence. The original goal of reconstructing human intelligence in machines requires teaching machines to carry out many complex functions. Reasoning, problem solving, memory recall, planning, learning, processing natural language, perception, manipulation, social intelligence, and creativity are all part of reaching this goal.

The Turing Test

How can we know if a machine is intelligent? The Turing test (TT) was proposed by Alan Turing in 1950 as one of the first tests of intelligence in machines. It is a challenge to understand whether a machine acts like a human. To pass the test, a human interrogator asks questions to the machine. If the human interrogator cannot distinguish which responses are from a human and which are from a machine, the machine passes the test.

The Turing test has appeared time and time again in popular science-­fiction movies over the past 40 years. Ex Machina and Blade Runner are examples. It is one of many “Are we there yet?” checkpoints for the field.