Will AI Take our jobs

I knew this was on the horizon but I just saw a video of the AutoDesk Dreamcatcher program slated to release next year. What do you guys think? Will AI take our jobs? The program seems a bit more engineering focused, but talks about “Designers” heavily. Whether or not that is CAD Designers, ME Designers, etc, who knows. I Imagine this is how Graphic Designers felt when Illustrator and Photoshop were released.


I’m not worried about being replaced or becoming obsolete. As AI develops it will be another tool. Designers (all types) and Photographers were thrilled by the arrival and development of vector drawing and image editing programs, CAD and 3D CAD – more tools, more options. I started my career long before computer anything – it’s way better now.

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  1. Looking at how horrible those bike frames look on the Autodesk site, I’m not worried.

  2. At the end, we are designing for human beings, and have in big advantage in being human ourselves.

Take a look at the big data ad world. It was supposed to be the ultimate in delivering ads to the people who wanted them most. In reality, online ad rates are declining and less and less people seem to be clicking on them. When you consider the amount of data and time spent on ads for such a poor result, I think design, which is much more complicated, is safe.

  1. Like Dan says, I think it will be a tool. It would be really cool if I could just click a button in Solidworks and it would propose a fastener arrangement. That’s something that I hate working out anyways…

What you shared is really considered topology optimization and it’s been around for years.

Graphic designers were not “scared” when photoshop came out. While some people may “Belittle” a tool in it’s early stages, most designers realized their would be a point where there workflow had to adapt new tools. The same way there was a tipping point where film photographers, who claimed that digital could never reproduce the quality or resolution of film said “nope, I was wrong, this is better now”.

Advanced FEA/optimization tools like this will never design a pure end product. As Industrial Designers your job isn’t just to design a mechanically optimized structure, your job is to take into account aesthetics, design for manufacturability, design for disassembly, the use of multiple material types, etc.

Topology optimization is currently great for visualizing concepts if you’re designing suspension components, airframe assemblies - or other single material, function driven components.

As long as you don’t say “bah I don’t need them computers!” in 5 years then you’ll be just fine.

Good discussion guys! Now that I have had some more time to think this over, I think the technology like most of you have said could be a cool tool, but is really nothing more. Part of this is that the technology from my understanding uses existing archetypes and data points, where as much of what we do as designers is reliant on progressing from the past. And there is truth to it being considered topology optimization, something I know Ross Lovegrove (among others) has been using extensively for some time now.

Generative design is not necessarily Topology Optimisation. Topology optimisation optimises a given topology, i.e. you have to give it a 3D form to start with. Generative design builds variable and numerous different 3D forms which can meet the requirements of the load cases given.
That said, and as previously mentioned, it is not AI in any sense. It is just a mathematical model which has been defined by humans.
There are massive potentials for AI in CAD programs, for example in giving guidance for Design for Manufacture aspects, or for pulling in ergonomic data in order to optimise the size and form of components. Etc.
Potentially, in my opinion, AI could replace a lot of product designers. Only those on the real forefront of understanding psychological and emotional human needs and desires are irreplaceable for longer. Products which are functional, aesthetically targetted to the intended user group and affordable (with mechanical design, market research, material selection, manufacturing cost optimisation, etc all being possible in the near future with AI) will be easily designed by true AI (not mathematical models).

This thread reminded me of a paper I read (and posted on C77!) in 2006/2007. It was an OCED report on manufacturing. It showed that the real number of manufacturing jobs worldwide was falling, including China. I’m sure this trend has continued since.

Despite losing manufacturing jobs to robots, automation and better management, global poverty has continued to rapidly fall and the global economy seems at least stable.

More importantly for design, I think there has never been a bigger variety of products. This will give us a huge market for our skills for the next 20 years at least. Even after that, computers are good at synthesizing existing data. I wonder if they can make the kind of abrupt shifts that humans can (like grunge music or psychedelic graphic design)?

AI assists Engineers now exp with FEA work. I could get specific if anyone cared. My thought on this is that design will be the last to go with artificial intelligence.

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I feel pretty safe. I truly don’t see a time when AI could do what we do. We synthesize to many data points to create the work that we do. We make connections that seem logical after they have been made. But before that, no one put the pieces togather. There is also the problem with aesthetics AI will be a long way from being able to generate a look and feel of a product. How does something with no emotion generate something that has emotion? If they could build AI to replace us a better use for that AI program would be hedge fund managing. It would make a whole lot more money doing that. I truly believe at the end of the day a good designer is one of the best deals in bussiness. No matter how much we charge the return on investment is many times what they paid us.

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I am a big fan of Issac Asimov. He has addressed many of these concerns with his I-robot series. I believe AI will be able to create something, just don’t believe it will be really creative. Maybe one day it will be but I just don’t see it. Becuase unlike anything we can build the human brain is organic. There for there are norms with it but that is very different from having a coding language that created you. It creates truly unique thought processes. On top of that, we all have different life experiences. This makes each individual human a completely unique entity. By definition, this process would not be duplicatable so there is no way to create a machine to do it. I believe the combination of your brain at birth and the experiences you have as a person, determine what your creativity will become. If the machine is not ever going to get there I don’t believe it can take a job like ours. But it could assist us. It could be like having a junior designer or intern. You set up a frame work for it to work with in and I think it might excel at that. But I believe true start to finish design for AI is nearly impossible, so I don’t see that happing