Design and Innovation in the Age of
Big Data and AI
How does AI incorporate human thinking into digital technology? One of the most exciting recent developments in digital technology is our ability to use powerful computing tools to automate challenging cognitive and emotional tasks that used to be done only by human workers. Weatherhead Professor Youngjin Yoo, faculty director of xLab and Professor Kalle Lyytinen, Distinguished University Professor, Chair and Professor, Design & Innovation Department, study the use of AI for complex engineering design, such as microprocessors. Engineers work with genetic algorithms to design the next generation microprocessor chips, using the current generation computing hardware. Engineers and chip designers have to adapt their design practices radically to accommodate the design style of the machine, which is sometimes quite frustrating. At the same time, with the rapid pace of innovations and ever-expanding complexity of microprocessor chips, these engineers admit that they would never be able to do what they are doing without the help of these machines.
In a provocative and bold experiment, a team of designers and engineers at Autodesk experimented with the idea of a product designing itself. With the generative design engine powered by AI, together with Internet of Things, Virtual and Augmented Reality and 3D printing, the team created Hack Rod. The outcome: A car designing itself.
With all these developments of powerful tools and the accumulation of the massive amount of data, it is no longer a question whether companies should use technology for their innovations. A more important question to ask is how to use those tools, and more precisely how to create the most powerful combination of man-machine collaboration. Here's a debate between Don Norman, former VP of Design at Apple and Mickey McManus, the founder of Maya Design who led the Hack Rod project, on the role of human design in the age of AI.