AI is pumping ideas now

Sitting on my deck this afternoon and tinkering with AI. I punched in a few design prompts and in a couple of hours I generated over 80 imaginary cars of different categories.

I’m blown away. I’m not an automotive designer so what does this mean for the auto industry and the hours spent on ideation and renderings while we can just spit these out with a laptop or iPhone in less than two hours?

Generic SUV:

Generic white convertible:

White EV thing:

A bit too much Porsche in this one:

Just for shits n’giggles- A pick-up:

And a bunch of variations on one prompt:

![_1d7a2288-b9f8-4279-afba-9828bfaf68cf 2|690x498]

Struggles with a Rivian sedan:

Not sure the prompts but all kinda look like plausible Polestar/Porsche/Volvo to me.

Not bad.

For the moment, they all look derivative. But it’s only a matter of time before they kill us…after taking our jobs.

And some people thought Cyberdyne wasn’t a taste of what’s to come…

This makes me want to ponder what the future is for humans with the creative skills that have always identified them as potential or proto-designers, from the design school admissions point of view.

In 2005, when manufacturing’s flight to China first became visible, there was the beginnings of the discussion on the role of design and designers - back then, moving to ‘a place at the table’ and into strategy and planning in addition to high level concept direction etc while the industrial design engineering aspects moved out to China along with manufacturing.

Now, in 2023, we’re facing replacement at the concept design level - is this output the equivalent of numerous feature based alternatives that CAD guys sitting next to the factories would churn out? Or is this output more a signal of AI’s developing capacity to take over at the problem/solution manifestation level?

if so, then, is the prompt designer a design planner who does the necessary back end work to identify the opportunity space and craft the design brief for the range of product concepts that must be created for clients to choose from? Or, can anyone (CAD jockey equivalent) simply plug in basic inputs and churn out concepts, and it doesn’t matter if the outputs can be correlated to an opportunity space or an unmet user need etc - the original framings of what design was supposed to work towards?

On one level, AI like this will create a ‘Shenzen’ for industrialization’s outputs regardless of category or function, able to rapidly generate options that anyone - even an MBA with a soupcon of design thinking classwork - can churn out.

On the other, it asks us to reflect upon and think about design as a discipline and as an education, with a eye towards the future for both current practitioners and future ones.

I add this here as I continue to think about where we can go, or like mockup artists of the pre-computing era, should we simply prepare for obsolescence as an industry and as a profession?

*Verganti, R., Vendraminelli, L., & Iansiti, M. (2020). Innovation and design in the age of artificial intelligence. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 37(3), 212-227.*

Is this it? A suggestion similar to what we were saying 18 years ago - oh, design will move higher up the food chain - without a thought to the destruction of an entire body of knowledge in practical hands on skills in fabrication and production and model making and die making et al

Sensemaking - what is sensemaking? And how many designers can and will move into this as their entire profession and employment capacities are destroyed from under their feet?

Ah, I am designer as sensemaker, hire me. // sarcasm font

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What is the role for the human being in the design process is the new question to be answered.

What is the software you are using? I’d like to tinker myself.

If the styling AI could plug into FEA or CFD or EE AI you could augment the concepts with “now make it have the best aerodynamic CoD in its segment” or “show me how to package a 200kWh battery”.

I better start getting into woodworking soon.


this. exactly. this.

“a three quarter view of a white pick-up with normal street tyres, no plastic wheel arches in the style of a Porsche EV in a light background”

OK I’ll stop now.

MidJourney. It’s a bit of a pain to sign up for and there are some people doing some crazy shit on it, but beware, it’s super addictive.

This dude in faux Adidas:

or having a Wes Anderson moment:

At the end of the day this is a question of - does CEO of a studio of tech company really wants to deal with prompts, rather than with the humans? Yes he can hire some sort of prompt-designers but what’s the fun in this. I think some heavy money-driven person will choose this over real humans - yes. But not sure about every person wanted to be surrounded by robots day to day.

And also now all of this still have to be produced, CAD-ed and so on. Imagine asking AI to make clarification on shapes and forms or to change a bit in their sketch. That would not be easy. And I doubt AI will be suitable to make full production cycle any time soon reliably.

What I discovered myself using AI in design - that it is very very boring. Not only it can’t step out of the box, I mean to think out of the box, but it is usually produce things which are rarely usable as is. So you steal from yourself or teammates the fun part and replace it with boring.

It reminds me of the problem of dishwasher robot. It is very hard to make a dishwasher robot, which work like human because it have to make a very conscious choices over everything he do each second. There is no way to automate dishwashing for humanoid robot with hands. Not only this robot have to understand the ethics of the process (I mean at least not to break stuff) it have to be very precise, to control how clean things are, to not make a mess around him and so on. And his intention to wash dishes need to have meaning - bigger picture in which this process included, and robot understand this to change it behaviour if needed.
The design is just like that.