Figma pulls AI tool after criticism that it ripped off Apple’s design

Figma’s new tool Make Designs lets users quickly mock up apps using generative AI. Now, it’s been pulled after the tool drafted designs that looked strikingly similar to Apple’s iOS weather app. Figma CEO Dylan Field posted a thread on X early Tuesday morning detailing the removal, putting the blame on himself for pushing the team to meet a deadline, and defending the company’s approach to developing its AI tools.

In posts on X, Andy Allen, CEO of Not Boring Software, showed just how closely Figma’s Make Designs tool made near-replicas of Apple’s weather app. “Just a heads up to any designers using the new Make Designs feature that you may want to thoroughly check existing apps or modify the results heavily so that you don’t unknowingly land yourself in legal trouble,” Allen wrote.

In a Tuesday interview with Figma CTO Kris Rasmussen, I asked him point blank if Make Designs was trained on Apple’s app designs. His response? He couldn’t say for sure. Figma was not responsible for training the AI models it used at all.

“We did no training as part of the generative AI features,” Rasmussen said. The features are “powered by off-the-shelf models and a bespoke design system that we commissioned, which appears to be the underlying issue.”

That generally matches something he said on Monday on X in response to a user who suggested Make Designs was trained on existing apps. “As we shared when we launched Figma AI last week, there was no training as part of this feature or any of our generative features,” he wrote. “We are looking into what extent the similarities are a function of the third party models we are using vs. the design systems we commissioned to be used by the models and we will address as needed.”

Field, in his own thread, said that the Make Designs feature “is not trained on Figma content, community files or app designs” and noted that “the accusations around data training in this tweet are false.” He said a problem with the company’s approach is that “variability is too low.”

The key AI models that power Make Designs are OpenAI’s GPT-4o and Amazon’s Titan Image Generator G1, according to Rasmussen. If it’s true that Figma didn’t train its AI tools but they’re spitting out Apple app lookalikes anyway, that could suggest that OpenAI or Amazon’s models were trained on Apple’s designs. OpenAI and Amazon didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Rasmussen argued that Figma didn’t want to do any training to improve its features until it was open with its users about its AI training policies, which it also introduced last week. As part of those policies, users have until August 15th to decide if they want to opt in or out of allowing their content to be used for Figma’s training. (Starter and Professional plans are opted in by default, while Organization and Enterprise plans are opted out by default.)

I asked if Figma is planning on training its own models — which, given the company’s new AI training policies, seems like something that’s going to happen. “We definitely see opportunities to really perfect your design workflows by teaching these models how to design in the context of Figma,” Rasmussen said. However, “we’re going to be taking steps to ensure that our own models or any fine-tuning we do with open source models only learn general design patterns and specific Figma design concepts so that they can be better tools for professional designers.”

I also asked Rasmussen how Figma plans to fix its processes to catch potential issues in the future. “We’re doing a pass over the bespoke design system to ensure that it has sufficient variation and meets our quality standards,” he said. “That’s the root cause of the issue. But we’re going to take additional precautions before we re-enable [Make Designs] to make sure that the entire feature meets our quality standards and is consistent with our values.”

Rasmussen also pointed to the fact that Make Designs is in beta. “Betas, by definition, are not perfect. But it’s safe to say, as Dylan shared in his tweet, that we simply didn’t catch this particular issue. And we should have.”

Rasmussen said Figma expects to re-enable Make Designs “soon.” Other Figma AI features will continue to be available in beta. (To access any of Figma’s AI features, you have to sign up for a waitlist.)

Figma is the latest company to come under scrutiny for its approach to bringing AI into its creative tools. Adobe had to make clear that it wouldn’t use your work to train its AI after backlash toward terms of service changes. And Meta has had to change its AI labels after photographers complained about its old label being incorrectly applied to real photos.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top