Trends: AI in print – opportunities, potential and challenges

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The printing industry has been undergoing constant change for as long as there has been a printing industry – whether it’s more powerful machines, new printing processes or new distribution channels. With artificial intelligence, the signs are now once again pointing to change, as the question of whether AI should be used in the printing industry has long since given way to the question of how. Kirsten Hommelhoff, Managing Director of the Bundesverband Druck und Medien (German Printing and Media Industries Federation), spoke about the various aspects and potential of AI in the printing industry at the OPS 2024.

“The reputation of print, structural change, the shortage of skilled workers and other challenges – and now AI! Yes. And it’s worth looking at AI from different angles,” said Kirsten Hommelhoff in her keynote speech “AI – a booster for an industry in transition” at the start of the second day of the Online Print Symposium. She has been the Managing Director of the Bundesverband Druck und Medien e.V. since 1 January 2024 and is therefore co-organizer of the annual online print event. The lawyer’s presentation was therefore of particular interest.

It was clearly structured, raised cognitive, legal and ethical questions and examined the technological leap of artificial intelligence, which is once again challenging the industry’s ability to change, from different angles. “If you want to remain competitive, you have to come to terms with AI,” said Kirsten Hommelhoff, “because AI starts at a young age. Everyone will use AI and we need to pay attention to which activities may shift to the customer side.” She was thinking, for example, of image processing, image generation or layout design. But a lot will also change within the industry. The keywords here were colour management, preflighting and data correction, impositioning, makeready time optimization in printing and finishing, preventive maintenance, quality assurance and so on – not to mention marketing and sales.

AI as a solution to the shortage of skilled workers?

“The world of work will change. But I don’t see AI reducing the shortage of skilled workers,” she made it unmistakably clear. Industry-specific knowledge will still be needed. “New organizational structures will be required and roles will change. It will become clear that we need more generalists and fewer specialists,” explained Kirsten Hommelhoff, pointing out that lifelong learning will not become obsolete as a result of AI. Intelligent prompting, creativity techniques and the responsible use of AI must be learned.

Lady Justice sends her regards

“From today’s perspective, artificial intelligence is a black box and at the same time omnipresent. That’s why trust is important when dealing with the technology,” Kirsten Hommelhoff opened her explanation of the legal situation and immediately defended the EU’s AI Act against possible criticism. “The AI Act does not want to regulate the technology, but the applications. 85% are risk-free, but high-risk AI requires a conformity check,” she explained. She also advocated introducing AI guidelines for employees within your own company and involving the works council at the same time.

After all, dealing with AI requires clear rules. Questions such as “Who owns which data – and who is allowed to do what with which data?” are still largely unresolved, but should soon be put on a firm footing in order to achieve transparency. “Transparency takes the fear out of employees and customers,” said Kirsten Hommelhoff and concluded: “AI is a huge opportunity, AI is here to stay – but it is a challenge.” She urgently advised people to take a close look at the topic, but not to ignore it. Especially because – as with many innovations – the short-term effects are overestimated and the long-term effects tend to be underestimated.    

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Trends: AI in print - opportunities, potential and challenges
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Trends: AI in print - opportunities, potential and challenges
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The printing industry has been undergoing constant change for as long as there has been a printing industry - whether it's more powerful machines, new printing processes or new distribution channels. With artificial intelligence, the signs are now once again pointing to change, as the question of whether AI should be used in the printing industry has long since given way to the question of how. Kirsten Hommelhoff, Managing Director of the Bundesverband Druck und Medien (German Printing and Media Industries Federation), spoke about the various aspects and potential of AI in the printing industry at the OPS 2024.
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Beyond-print.net

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