Artificial Intelligence and Humans: New Perspectives in the World of Design



"Will artificial intelligence take our jobs? Will societies and educational systems be able to keep up with this rapid change? How will data security and personal privacy be protected? What will be the effects of artificial intelligence on human creativity? What role can it play in combating the climate crisis?"

Humanity has experienced similar fears with each new technology. Just as with the industrial revolution, the internet, and automation processes, artificial intelligence initially creates uncertainty and concern. However, we are the creators of these new tools and the ones who will decide what to do with them. For instance, during the industrial revolution, machines transformed the workforce, leading to the emergence of new professions.

The human species tends to offload its responsibilities onto others, whether animate or inanimate. However, we must tactically reject the assignment of blame to AI algorithms and models, acknowledging that ethical responsibility rests entirely with us, and we must not avoid this duty. Setting aside our fears and doomsday scenarios, we should contemplate which problems or design challenges within the discipline of architecture can be addressed using the potential of artificial intelligence. Technology is shaped by how we interact with it.

Artificial intelligence has rapidly become a popular topic in recent years, and it thoroughly deserves this interest. In fact, we are already using this technology. Expert systems, which are software applications that use specialized knowledge bases to solve complex problems, have become integral to our lives. Examples such as Alexa and Siri fall into the category of expert systems, while also incorporating advanced AI systems like modern language processing and machine learning.

Designers' interest in this field has increased with the emergence of general artificial intelligence and generative artificial intelligence, which are equipped with more powerful algorithms and user-friendly interfaces. General AI is defined as a technology that can mimic the broad-ranging capabilities of human intelligence and perform various tasks at a human level. This technology has the potential to exhibit cognitive abilities such as learning, reasoning, problem-solving, and comprehension. It can integrate knowledge from different disciplines, independently learn and apply new tasks. For example, it can simultaneously learn a language and solve a complex mathematical problem. Generative artificial intelligence, with these capabilities, can produce new and original visuals, texts, and sounds from specific datasets.

The entry of artificial intelligence into the world of design is realized not only by optimizing work processes but also by its potential to generate new design ideas and provide inspiration. The opportunities offered by these technologies excite us as designers and enable new avenues for design research. To better understand the dynamics emerging at the intersection of AI and design disciplines, we can examine this relationship under three main headings: AI as a tool, the importance of dialogue, and the design of workflows.

AI as a Design Tool

Physical tools, perceptional tools and cognitive tools. Images produced at Midjourney © Derya Karadağ

In the struggle for life, it is not our physical attributes that make us strong. Throughout this centuries-long adventure, every new tool that enhances our physical skills, from flint and stick to nail and hammer, has altered our existence and civilization in addition to making life easier. In this historical journey, we began to see further and closer, to see the unseen. With perceptual tools like binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes, we have tried to capture, understand, and explain the world from different perspectives. Now we face a brand-new tool to support our cognitive activities: Generative AI.

However, AI is not a magical brush for designers. On the contrary, it is important to question and contribute to the database of each model; to consider how we will position ourselves in the face of this technology and how we will use it. How are design processes supported by these new tools? How do we choose between different models? How do we use them effectively?

The main issue is to be honest with ourselves and ask this critical question: What is our ethical stance as humans? What do we care about in life? As designers, which design problems do these concerns lead us to solve? There is not yet an AI model that can generate answers to these questions.

The Importance of Dialogue
Nicholas Negroponte mentions that the interaction between designers and machines sparks a dialogue, which strengthens the designer-machine relationship. This evolving partnership between these distinct entities is symbiotic, growing through mutual learning and communication. Negroponte's words, while summarizing the essence and potential of designer-machine interaction, also emphasize the continuous learning and adaptation we experience in our interactions with artificial intelligence. This process is not limited to AI algorithms responding to our needs; we, as part of this dialogue, also learn from the impact of this new tool on the design process and develop new methods.

AI presents itself with different algorithms at various stages of design. Particularly in models that generate visuals from text and have extensive databases, trying to understand how the algorithm behaves in response to a request is similar to trying to understand the design perspective, language, knowledge, and how a new colleague evaluates this knowledge.

Some prompt-generated visual experiments in Midjourney © Derya Karadağ

How you define any visual, how the tool matches these definitions with the information in its database, and how the AI algorithm's interface perceives these connections are fundamental questions for designers interested in text-to-image generation models. For anyone who cannot simply say, "I enter a prompt and accept whatever the AI algorithm gives me," this is a mutual learning process that must be conducted without losing a critical perspective. By deepening this dialogue with AI, we can improve both our own ways of working and the algorithms themselves.

Designing Workflows
The design process begins with the designer or design team conducting multi-layered research and analysis on a specific problem, leading to the generation of preliminary solutions and alternatives. One of the most crucial steps for the designer is to have these alternative design solutions undergo a specific evaluation process and to select the most suitable solution. In traditional processes, information is evaluated and transformed into a design through intuition and communication. In computational design processes, tools supporting relational and rule-based thinking are used to regenerate information through interactions with computational tools. This process employs computer-aided analysis, synthesis, and optimization methods.

All these design approaches advance with the inclusion of evolving tools. Today, in addition to these processes, various artificial intelligence algorithms and models are also integrated into the design process. As designers, our important area of research is to determine at which point in our design processes we can use these models, including machine learning, deep learning models, natural language processing, computer vision, optimization algorithms, general artificial intelligence, and generative adversarial networks.

ComfyUI and designed workflows,

At this stage, "workflows" emerge as a new design problem. Do we still think that this technology will make our work easier and take it away from us? Or, on the contrary, is the necessary assistant, who will help us take the next step in solving design problems that we have not been able to resolve until now, now with us?

As I mentioned before, behind all this "AI will take over the world" paranoia, it seems there is a tendency of the human species to offload ethical responsibility onto others. However, AI is a tool; it is possible to use this technology for developing analytical solutions and designs to escape ecological crises, or as a powerful weapon in warfare. At this point, our ethical approach to the use of these tools and our worldview are of great importance.

With the opportunities provided by AI technologies, we can reshape and advance our design processes. By combining the intuitive and experience-based nature of traditional methods with AI-supported analytical and data-driven approaches, we can achieve more effective and creative results. At this point, we must not forget that the guiding element in human-AI interaction is still the human.


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