For quite some time I have been tracking all the automation trends: Uber with their automated Volvos, Farmbot with their CNC gardening bot, automated tractors, farming equipment , tools and devices to improve previously heavy labor.
I was wondering how this would affect my profession (architecture). I kept thinking that even the current software we use still requires the designer to provide input. To coordinate issues, to solve problems-on paper and on the field, to communicate with the bureaucrats and to explain the massive building code requirements.
I mean yes the use of BIM software would eliminate a lot of the conflicts and simplify a lot of the construction process. Still, with all the variables and conflicts that come up-owner requests, field conditions, errors in fabrication, compensations for schedule-I could not come up with how mere software can replace my job.
Until I chanced upon this article today. It was all by chance. I learned of a new job description yesterday so I thought I would try it. Basically, the name of the job is (blank) automation (blank), or automation (blank). Whatever the job was, add automation to it, and something would come up.
I ran a search for automation design by mistake. I ended up with a great article from TechCrunch from June 2016 by Karl Brunner. Here is a link. His article summed it up for me in one word: AI. It is not some kind of mechanical automation, advances in fabrication. It was not the design software we used to make the building plans. It was the actual design software that the end users will use. With AI, the computer can interact with the end user in their preferred method and let them conceive of the environment they want to build. Myself and most designers would cease being the gatekeepers. It hit me in the gut pretty hard (it was a Tuesday morning right after my annual employee review, so this article had to be pretty strong to hit me after the fact).
Think about it, how many products can you currently acquire using AI? I was recently trying to find branding info for this urban farm I am running, and I used AI to come up with some logo and website concepts. Websites are designed with AI. The designers have been sucked of their creativity and their skills now reproduced and scaled by technology.
On the other hand, realizing that I was working as a gatekeeper also sucked. I do not want to be someone who profits by restricting access to something of benefit. I always wanted architecture to improve lives, and always thought there were a lot of flaws in our current system. A few days ago I was pondering on some kind of Uber approach to the industry, that it may be the only way to force change on it. Maybe this is that.
Rather than being a quick relay of info on that TechCrunch article this post actually going somewhere. There is no conclusion here. Only that I need to go and review this direction further. How can I be a part of this evolution, where it holds the potential of truly opening up architecture for the benefit of the end user?