AI is pumping ideas now

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