#btconf Düsseldorf, Germany 13 - 14 May 2024

Natalya Shelburne

Natalya is a designer, developer, artist, author, educator, and doer of good deeds. She leads a team of talented designers and coders working on Primer, GitHub’s open-source design system. Previously, she worked at The New York Times, contributing to various projects from experimental apps to the main core home page. Additionally, she taught at Harvard Extension, where she created a course on Modular Design Patterns with React. She loves to write, publishing the Design Engineering Handbook and articles for various online publications. When not attending or speaking at conferences, she loves sketchnoting them with watercolours and ink.

Natalya holds bachelor’s degrees in Studio Art and Psychology, and a master's in Creativity and Talent Development. Crossing disciplines and building bridges between design and engineering is at the foundation of much of her work, and building teams and creating at scale is the next big adventure.

Channeling Chaos: Role of the Artist in the Age of AI

In this pivotal moment dubbed “the age of AI,”what can the future be? What can this technology do? Who will be impacted, and how? In my role as director of Primer Design at GitHub, I am no stranger to these questions, and I find myself using my training as an artist every single day. In unprecedented times, being an artist often feels like a supernatural power.

Art and technology have been deeply intertwined for most of human history, and creative minds have played the key role of embracing technology and using it to shape the future. Modern times are no exception. Whether you’re an engineer writing code, designing in Figma, or shaping product strategy, this talk is for you. Forget the paintbrush, artistic practice is not tied to a single medium. Thinking like an artist means questioning everything, being a catalyst, shaping perception, and driving innovation. In this talk I weave together stories from history with hard earned personal lessons to share artistic practices that can help anyone better navigate moments of rapid change.

Most importantly, I’m not here to squeeze any more productivity out of you, introduce any clever AI hacks, or promise that I have all of the answers. As creatives in tech, we are as well positioned to shape the future as we are vulnerable to it. Embrace your inner artist and know that the future can be anything.


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