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What is the color of artificial intelligence, or the color which represents AI in the eyes of general public?

What is the reason for that? Is there any sociological research on this or related topics?

I'm designing the product which will have AI agent, probably in the form of character. This character will suggest changes to user content (tasks, work items). Changes like: move the task to next stage, link related entities. I'm considering to distinguish this suggestions/changes with color to indicate that this change was made by IA agent but not fellow human. Just to give people a heads-up.

enter image description here

The best insight I have at this point is from 99% Invisible podcast Future screens are mostly blue episode, which is based on Make It So book. I wonder if there anything else any should know.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Devin, locationunknown, Shreyas Tripathy, msanford, Matt Obee Jun 10 at 15:07

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Can you add a bit of context to the question? Are you after a colour to use for a logo that represents AI for example? – sclarke Jun 6 at 8:15
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    According to Stack Exchange it seems to be violet: ai.stackexchange.com – Kodos Johnson Jun 7 at 0:42
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    Black and red, obviously... – T.J. Crowder Jun 7 at 7:49
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    Is this AI evil or not? – Daniel Schilling Jun 7 at 13:41
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    You really should not hard-code text & background colors in apps, as there will always be people who dislike your choices. Pick up the system foreground & background, and use those as defaults. Also, using different colors is problematic for colorblind users. Try different fonts, underlining, or setting off with special characters instead, e.g. "I wrote this. The AI replied ::I don't really like that::" – jamesqf Jun 7 at 17:04

11 Answers 11

51

Color association is highly dependent on context, culture, personal background, industry, upbringing, generation, etc.

I recommend you create some versions and run a simple preference test asking your users what version they associate AI with and why.

As witnessed in the discussion from this answer, meanings and connotations will change depending who you talk to. You want to know what your users think represents AI, and not what this forum's users thinks represents AI.

  • 1
    Thank you for your answer! I agree that I should ask my customers and user, this is a valid answer to 98% of questions of the website. On the other hand, I can as well get skewed result with will not work work for new customers of the product. At this point 3 biggest customers are German manufacturing companies with dark blue brand color. No kidding. I afraid that if I only ask them, the answer isn't going to be good for future prospects. – Jurijs Kovzels Jun 11 at 21:06
38

color swatches from gray to cyan

From Wikipedia:

[...] "artificial intelligence" is used to describe machines that mimic "cognitive" functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as "learning" and "problem solving".

Artificial intelligence is relate to artificial brains. The brain is composed of gray matter.

Grey matter is distributed at the surface of the cerebral hemispheres (cerebral cortex) and of the cerebellum (cerebellar cortex), as well as in the depths of the cerebrum.

Within the range of grays, from dark gray to white, there can be a difference:

Dark greys

The dark colors are related to an uncertain future and harmful to the human race: cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech" featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.

  • Dark, dirty, inhuman, harmful, dangerous

Light greys

The light grey/white has a relation of the friendly technology with the human being: post-cyberpunk

  • Clean, healthy, friendly, mysterious

Cyan

As a color extension of white like in the ice, icebergs or glaciers, avoiding grayish shadows, to make them look cleaner.

Some graphic examples:

Wall-E comparison with other bots in movie

Terminator vs. I, Robot

Apple Mouse

  • 6
    In what way do the tints of cyan represent artificial intelligence? Not saying they don't, but you only touched on the grey colors in your answer, while including images with grey and cyan colors. – Maharkus Jun 6 at 14:11
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    I think you'd have to be firmly under the umbrella of Steve Jobs' reality-distortion-field to consider an Apple mouse in any way related to artificial intelligence. – J... Jun 6 at 15:08
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    The images refer only to aesthetics, not functionality, much less to a commercial brand – Danielillo Jun 6 at 15:18
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    @Mazura red is only for evil AI, which you probably don't want your users to associate with your product. I'm surprised no-one has mentioned clippy, who I thought I'd immediately on reading OP's question – Roland Heath Jun 7 at 0:33
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    @J... I’m pretty sure the mouse example is meant to contrast the two aesthetics, not demonstrate AI. – user76284 Jun 7 at 4:55
16

I don't think there is a specific color that has generally been declared as the "color of AI".

However, when choosing a color for something, it usually is a good idea to take a step back and think about what the specific term you are trying to visualize represents and pick colors that represent these values the best.

AI is a term that is largely perceived as being:

  • futuristic
  • progressive
  • new
  • ever-evolving
  • clean
  • high-tech

but also as being:

  • dangerous
  • frightening
  • unknown
  • cold

Based on this you could choose:

Turquoise or blue. They are likely the most prominent color when it comes to visualizing forward-thinking, communicative and technological concepts. They also represent a sense of security, that might be what you are looking for, as new technologies can be scary, especially when it comes to self-learning computers, that have been hypothesized to being the end of humanity. Likely or not, you will probably not want your logo/icon/brand to represent the downfall of humanity.

enter image description here enter image description here

Orange. Orange might not feel as futuristic or technological as the previously mentioned colors, but it is a very dynamic, lively young and also communicative color. Neural networks are everchanging and -adapting and can provide many possibilities for the future. AI is based on the concept of finding new connections and learning through them. Orange is a viable choice that can represent all of these things. It also gets rid of the cold and frightening vibe that the concept of AI might radiate to some people and is not being used in a technological context that often, which can make you stand out more easily.

enter image description here

...or something completely different. You might have a different focus on which part of AI you want to stand out the most. The only thing that is important is that the color you are choosing fits to the aspects you have picked to be most relevant.

Another thing worth mentioning might be to use brighter background colors rather than darker ones. Having a black background for instance would enhance the negative associations towards AI, while a white one can give the concept an entirely different optimistic outlook.

  • Orange is a nice idea. I associate it more with lower level tech though, like BIOS/UEFI. Don't know why, I just do. – Redwolf Programs Jun 6 at 18:12
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    Orange and blue? I get a feeling your inspiration is GladOS – George Menoutis Jun 7 at 5:22
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    Thank you. I think it is really helpful to decompose IA into the set of adjectives as you did. – Jurijs Kovzels Jun 7 at 7:36
  • @GeorgeMenoutis If I'm not mistaken, her eye is more like yellow (but got your idea as well). It's also color of space! – val Jun 8 at 12:35
13

Honestly, I feel like this would simply depend on which color you introduce your AI with and then simply keep the theme going.

app screen with an AI introducing itself
source

Of course it should not fall outside the color expectations of people, but I'd say smaller color nuances won't make a big difference. In that I also agree with Nicolas Hung's answer.


With that being said, searching for "future AI" in Google images results in this:

enter image description here

Nearly all the images feature the same futuristic blue color, which in itself can be taken as an indicator for the general public's color association AI.

9

The future screens being blue in your link seems like an incidence of the orange and teal phenomenon, especially if you're drawing from media rather than existing user interfaces.

My experience is that terminal green is a more commonly associated colour when it comes to technology and artificial intelligence, based on the simple terminals that existed in the 80s when science fiction was burgeoning.

You can see this reflected in some particular media, especially The Matrix.

This may be an antiquated notion, however - the 80s predate an awful lot of software users, and your use case may prefer cyan.

As an example: A computer terminal style image

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    Thanks for your answer, was not thinking about green at all! At the time it I thing that terminal green is associated with geeks and hacker rather then robotics and AI. – Jurijs Kovzels Jun 6 at 21:49
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    The association of green and computers comes from old phosphor (CRT) monitors, so it is probably already also coming across as "old" (as in old technology) to some... or perhaps as "no connection" to others, young people who haven't seen floppies or green monitors... (I feel old...) – Pablo H Jun 7 at 11:47
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    But many such terminals were yellow/amber, which is much easier on the eyes than green. – jamesqf Jun 7 at 16:59
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    @jamesqf: I hadn't ever encountered one, and that's interesting to know! I should do some more research on old monitors sometime. – KGVT Jun 7 at 17:23
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    JurijsKovzels: That isn't really a distinction I'd appreciated, but I think I agree, this might be more specifically a part of the 80s/Hackers culture than bleeding edge AI. I think the @TheHonestAtheist's answer is probably more holistic, in any case; there's a case to be made for many kinds of color associations - what character does the A.I. have, if it's personified? :D Oblique angle of attack, but very useful. – KGVT Jun 7 at 22:48
5

What color is associated with AI?

None. The user should never see it.

What color do you associate with the Youtube algorithm, or the Facebook feed recommendation algorithm? Nothing, because the AI's completely transparent to the user, working away in the background.

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    So, if you have a company that specializes in AI your website should be blank? This doesn't make any sense. Just because something isn't visible doesn't mean it never needs to be visualized. – Maharkus Jun 7 at 14:08
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    He was asking about the AI itself - and my answer was that it shouldn't be directly visible to the user. The company that uses the AI might use any number of possible branding colors - for instance, Facebook uses blue and white, while Youtube uses red and white. – nick012000 Jun 7 at 14:12
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    @nick012000 it seems that you're entirely missing the point. Whatever the design is for (maybe for the company as a whole, maybe for a logo for a specific product) OP wants to associate that with AI (which is presumably somehow related), and this is not uncommon. Consider for example organic grocery chains, some of which go so far to include "green" in their name, and many of which use it as a base color. – DreamConspiracy Jun 8 at 5:21
  • Google search results shown in other answers disagree with this answer. There is clearly a color which is most commonly associated with AI in popular culture and in the WWW. – hyde Jun 8 at 13:20
  • While i agree that this is the most-correct answer, if the product itself is the AI, then it is not invisible. – New Alexandria Jun 10 at 0:02
3

Most people's main experience with AI will have been with virtual personal assistants. Two of the big ones, Alexa and Cortana, use blue (which is why I associate blue heavily with AI):

Alexa is blue
Digital Trends

(On phones/tablets, Alexa still mainly uses this blue.)

Cortana: blue
RCR Wireless

And then two of the other big ones have other color schemes. Siri's text color is white on dark, and there's always that white rainbow thing at the bottom:

Siri screen
Hacker Noon

Google Home Speakers are, by default, white (like Google).

Google assistant white speaker
PC Click

On phones, Google Assistant's black text on white with a Google colored image next to it.

2

Adobe Color yields this in a search

enter image description here

More dark colors, many dark blue, some violet, some orange, some teal, some snow-white

So I'll opt for two-tone color: Violet with light gray for utopian AI and violet with dark gray for distopian AI.

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    A horse, a pair of legs, and a book? I don't think that's a great search engine.. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jun 7 at 10:18
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft It's not a search engine, it's user generated content – yunzen Jun 7 at 10:39
2

Two immediate examples that came to mind were IBM's Watson, the artificial intelligence to compete and win in TV game show Jeopardy, and Leela, an open-source computer chess artificial intelligence based on Google's Deep Mind. Images below:

IBM Watson Leela Chess AI represented by Youtube chess commentator

Although blue was my first thought, one could make an argument for any color. Hal from Kubrik's 2001: A Space Odessey was black and red. Deep Thought as portrayed in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie was bronze-ish gold.

Perhaps a better creative path is choosing a color based in the emotion you want the AI to emulate, blue being calming and contemplative, green being energetic and youthful; red being aggressive and leading; yellow might be sunny and happy, etc. Again, these could be up to interpretation based on culture and context.

2

From someone who works in the data realm, I'd say the color of artificial intelligence is definitely "orange/butter + blue/arctic", at least this is how we have in mind when building our production tools.

These answers the question "What is the color of artificial intelligence", but not the second half "or the color which represents AI in the eyes of general public?"

For example,

Scikit-learn, one of THE most popular data science development kit/package, use those two colors.

On a side note, an extremely commonly used visualization package matplotlib uses blue and orange as the primary and secondary default color. If you print two lines, by default the first line will be blue, the second is orange.

enter image description here

Tensorflow and PyTorch, two of THE most commonly used deep learning framework, use orange-ish as their theme color.

enter image description here

enter image description here

One of THE most popular language for AI programming, Python, use blue and yellow; also the mighty Java uses similar colors.

enter image description here

enter image description here

Some extremely helpful tools, including Kubernetes, Docker, Apache Spark, have similar color schemes. These are the tools on top of my head when building data products.

enter image description here

enter image description here

enter image description here

These tools are so significant (especially python, scikit-learn, tensorflow, pytorch) that you basically cannot do modern data science work without them.

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    The general public has never heard of these tools. – CrabMan Jun 8 at 18:56
  • @CrabMan The first sentence of this question is literally "What is the color of artificial intelligence, or the color which represents AI in the eyes of general public?"If I understand the "or" correctly, that means this question has two aspects. I've answered the first part from my point of view. – Chenxi GE Jun 10 at 3:56
  • Thanks you, there is definitely blue & orange theme. – Jurijs Kovzels Jun 11 at 21:27
-1

The vision systems of robots in SciFi movies often show a red tinted image and a HUD with white text. This probably indicates they are made for night vision or may hint at infrared vision.

See for example this image of object recognition by the vision system of the T-800:

A screenshot from the terminator movie, when the T-800 recognizes a motor cycle. The image is red with white contours around the motor cycle and white text

This image matches some features of current AI systems for image processing quite accurate. You often see the result of image recognition by an AI as overlay showing e.g. the recognized contour like in this image and sometimes the probabilities for different categories are shown as image overlay, too. But most often, the image is shown in its original colors, even when the AI system works on greyscale or extracts its own features from the colors, though.

  • As alluded by Maharkus' answer above, you probably don't want your product to be associated with "evil" AI. T-800 HUD and HAL-9000 have reddish color, while the rather neutral SAL-9000 and benevolent JARVIS have blue-ish color – Martheen Jun 7 at 11:42
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    This is a very interesting answer and shows a big sense of perception. Anyway, the question is the color which represents AI in the eyes of general public. Following this, the eyes of the general public are not inside the robot, but outside. – Danielillo Jun 7 at 12:07
  • I'd say that red in those image is not related to AI but to aggressiveness, violence, war or at least emergency. It's the same red light used on submarines on attack sciencefocus.com/science/why-is-red-light-used-on-submarines , at least as portrayed in movies. – Pere Jun 7 at 17:20
  • Good point and red may be associated with warning/danger in general. When it comes to terminator the color of Skynet in Terminator 5 is blue, but it is representing the evil AI disguised as next generation operation system trying to look harmless. – allo Jun 8 at 15:56

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