Podcast: Used as a ‘copilot,’ AI can positively assist designers

Note: The following is a summary from the IMEG podcast, The Future Built Smarter. In keeping with the topic of this episode—artificial intelligence—the summary has been generated by ChatGPT using a transcription from the recording.

In this podcast episode, host Joe Payne and co-host Mike Lawless discuss the topic of AI and its impact on the design profession. Their guest, Michael Kilkelly, is a registered architect and member of IMEG’s internal Technical Operations team. He shares insights on how AI is being used in the field of architecture and engineering. 

They discuss the initial fears and concerns architects and engineers may have about AI taking over their jobs. However, as people start using AI tools like ChatGPT, they realize the practical applications and usefulness of these technologies. Michael highlights that while there may be some unfounded fears, there is also a recognition of the skill involved in effectively utilizing AI. 

The conversation dives into various areas where AI can enhance the design process. Michael mentions generative design tools like TestFit and ARK that help architects create optimal building layouts based on specific parameters. They also discuss the potential of AI in aiding visualization during client meetings, where AI tools can generate images based on spoken text, allowing clients to better understand and react to design concepts. 

The hosts explore the benefits of AI in terms of efficiency and productivity, as well as the potential for AI to assist with data analysis and historical data access. They emphasize the concept of “augmented intelligence” and the idea that AI tools can enhance human capabilities rather than replace them entirely. Michael introduces the concept of “prompt engineering” as the art of extracting useful information from AI systems, while maintaining contextual control to avoid generating false or fabricated data. 

Looking toward the future, the discussion touches on the possibility of personalized AI assistants or virtual copilots that can work alongside professionals, providing support and leveraging collective experience. They also anticipate advancements in querying databases with AI, allowing users to ask complex questions and receive accurate answers, leading to more informed decision-making. 

For related information, read Michael Kilkelly’s article, “AI and architecture and engineering: Programmed for success,” published by Smart Buildings Technology. 

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