It appears that architects have been longing for something like artificial intelligence to support their skills for a long time. It seems that in 1969 architect Nicholas Negroponte, who later created the MIT Media Lab, published a book titled The Architecture Machine , which forecasts the possibility of a machine that would assist architects do their job.
Negroponte dreamed of an architectural computer that could help architects in the design process. He conjured up a machine that would assist in three different ways.
- To automate current procedures to speed up and reduce the cost of existing practices.
- Alternating existing methods to make issues machine compatible.
- Present a design process to the machine leading to mutual training and growth of both machine and human.
It appears that the first two concepts have been achieved. The third concept is a work in progress.
If such a machine could be created, then Negroponte envisioned a relationship between human and machine that was not master and slave, but a collaboration of the two for self-improvement. It would be sort of like a digital colleague proposing design alternative during a free-flowing conversation of ideas.
The concepts Negroponte discussed is in effect machine learning. And that means that Negroponte's vision may not be too far away from being totally achieved.
Negroponte further describes the machine as being able "to exhibit alternatives, discern incompatibilities, make suggestions."
It is evident that AI is evolving into providing this for the field of architecture and what that means is that architects of the future should have no fear of losing their jobs. Machines will perform the heavy lifting while architects can focus on city making.
Collecting and storing quantities of data related to architecture is the key. This will allow architects to rely on data and leverage it through artificial intelligence into the process of design.
The field of architecture is now benefiting from research and case studies that are now available through Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK). However, sharing the data is still an issue. This will help to use automation to improve design and practice on a larger scale. With the advent of Cloud technology, sharing is much easier.
Sharing data can be achieved both internally and externally. The sharing can take place with in a firm, among a multitude of people working on the same project, or even externally with other firms. The result is better design and project delivery.
The tendency for architects is to protect intellectual property. This discourages firms from sharing ideas and information with their competition. However, sharing data could benefit the entire trade.
Understanding the potential of big data and artificial intelligence will help architects enhance their productivity and that adds up to a better bottomline.