We’ve all heard about how artificial intelligence is making a massive impact on several different industries worldwide. Business Insider famously claimed that 80% of retail businesses would be suing AI chatbots by 2020. The design industry hasn’t seen the same level of adoption of artificial intelligence for several reasons. Architects and designers believe that aesthetic pleasure comes from a human element and that AI can’t possibly re-create what we do. In essence, this is true, but AI shouldn’t be considered a tool to replace a designer, but rather make their lives easier. Here, we look at how AI is already shaping and evolving design for the twenty-first century.

What Exactly is AI?

When people think about artificial intelligence, they’re usually directed by popular culture to think about something like the devices they have in Star Trek. ZDNet helpfully defines AI in current terms as any system that performs a task that a human would require native intelligence to replicate. Artificial intelligence is a tool that a designer can use to do the heavy lifting for much of the thinking and reasoning they already have to do. However, it’s unlikely it could put the same soul into their design that a professional designer could, making them still just a shallow reflection of humanity.

AI and The Future of Work

Automation is already a concern in many different parts of the world. While it might not be able to determine what the best quartz kitchen countertops are as yet, it’s only a matter of time. Some debates have pointed out that AI has made some positions redundant, starting with chat operators and moving along the chain. Professionals don’t feel threatened because AI can’t bring humanity or adapt to unique situations as yet, but AI learns, and it does so much quicker than humans.

Big Data and Urban Planning

Big Data is not a new phenomenon, and it’s been around for at least a decade. Billions of data points help point out patterns in development and allow analysts to look at trends with the chunk of information. These insights can guide designers to refine the development of urban areas. What if there was no need for the designers in the first place? Data analysts can shunt the information to urban planning software with smart algorithms, which automatically adapts the scenario to incorporate the new data and write unique rules for its planning criteria. No human input would be needed, and the designer would become obsolete.

How Long Do We Have?

It’s easy to come up with these ideas but far more challenging to implement them. Algorithms would need to be debugged after they’re written, and there’s no telling whether there are unknowns that it can’t accommodate for. As good as AI is, it can’t yet rewrite its own code to deal with problems. It may be a long time before AI can replace such human pursuits as art, literature, and even design. However, it does offer us a lot of tools we can use in our own work. Planning and design using data models already provide us great insights into what works and what doesn’t. AI can compile the best methods to shortcut the prototyping process. As long as it stays in that limited scope, we won’t have a problem. However, if history has taught us anything, it’s that technology rarely ever remains stagnant.