Detective Note

Vol. 074-What do you think about AI as a design tool?


Interviewer: Sunny Xu

Sunny: Hi Mr. Mende. Today I would like to talk about a new technologic: AI (Artificial intelligence). What do you think about AI as a design tool?

Mende: Have you tried to use AI to make some sentences or other things?

Sunny: Recently, I tried to use an AI tool, Mid-journey, at a workshop with the Singapore office.  First, the user types into the app simple words or phrases, what style you want, or what object you want to see.   Then the app will show the user images.

For example, if I want to see Singapore, Sentosa, or other locations and lighting, then I just type in these words, and the app will show different versions of this image.  The computer can also make some beautiful perspectives or drawings.

Mende: So what do you think about this latest technology for our lighting design business or the project teams?

Sunny: On the negative side, a lot of time is needed for AI to show complete work. However, since I have studied drawing in the past, I think drawing is faster than trying again and again. This is my position.

Mende: Could Mid-journey create new designs or new lightscpaes for our projects.? For example, a hotel guest room. What will be the new design? I don’t know if AI will be able to exceed our creativity in this area.  A fellow professional recently stated, instead of  lighting designers, if AI can just help us to draw and place fixtures, that would be much faster. Perhaps somewhere in the future, we can prompt images in LPA style, Mr. Mende’s AI.

Sunny: Yes, AI is trainable. I think the positive side is that AI can gather information much faster, because people get tired and AI does not.  AI can keep working.  Just set the program to achieve a goal, and it won’t stop till the goal is achieved.

Sometimes you want to search for information, but when we browse the websites, many times we encounter irrelevant information, such as advertisements. Thus AI is useful to get us correct information.

Mende: Maybe in our lighting design process, desk work can be covered by AI. But how about the supervision work at the site?

Sunny: That will be difficult for AI, perhaps with an analysis program?

Mende: But what about evaluation? Can computers evaluate our work? Can computers be more creative than humans?

Sunny: I don’t think so, for it is programmed by people.  Programmed to show the style that is popular amongst the people and what most people love.

However, I think, especially for 2D drawings, clients may assume that AI drawing is sufficent and that I don’t need to hire designers.

Mende: Yes, AI is a powerful tool for graphic designers, mostly helping graphic designers to make logos, marks, or symbols.  They can find all the possibilities of imitations, slightly modified for themselves. But what about the other options and alternative ideas? Perhaps we can rearrange the AI’s preference? However, I don’t know if we should manipulate AI.  For the computer to take another’s idea so easily, it is quite dangerous.

Sunny: Most people say AI drawing is like collecting the body parts of many people, except the spirit.

And I see how people use AI for scheduling.  They asked the AI to plan their day. Like what you should eat for lunch? What you should do today.  It is quite convenient.

Mende: AI can be more logical than humans. So it is a very useful feature, but we don’t have any reason to refuse this technology for our daily lives and businesses.  However, creativity is very different.  One needs the full ability to choose from an entire range and evaluate. That is how normal human creativity should be. It should always be a little bit higher than AI.

Sunny: I think in the future people’s focal point is on less routine work.

Mende: Less routine work for designers, such as making schedules or calculations, this kind of work can be done by computers. So we should be able to go to a much higher level of creativity as well. I guess lighting designers now are spending much more time on desk work.  But I prefer to go to the project site.  Lighting design should always be at the site, not the desktop.  Most of the lighting happens at the project site. Do you have any fear of using these new technologies?

I’m always afraid of using tech too fast.  We worry much more about convenience, but convenience in our lives can be dangerous.  It takes away our ability to do something.

Sunny: Sometimes I am worried about a future where AI helps humans to do everything and people stop thinking.  If we were to lose AI, then we don’t know how to do anything.  I worry if I rely on AI to tell me what to do, I will lose the ability to know what I want to do anymore. For example, without a computer, we can explore the world by ourselves. With a computer, we just look at pictures and lose the feeling of seeing beautiful works. I think as a designer, the experience and feeling are especially important, you can’t replace this feeling.

Mende: Yes, I always tell designers to not only see, but also to feel, hear, smell, and  improve the 5 senses.  But the computer will take out this part of our ability.  We need to think about training ourselves and our abilities.  For example,  how to improve one`s light rendering skills.

We should shake hands with AI, and become close friends.  We can ask of AI something very hard and for help with hard work, but we have to watch this very carefully.  We have to continue to improve our own skills and techniques.

Sunny: I think AI can only solve computer-related problems, not project site related problems. I think it’s a step-by-step process.  It has just started developing, but people are already afraid.

Mende: We can be good friends, the difference might be a good and healthy friend, don’t fight each other. Technology is always developing and improving, for business, for efficiency, and other reasons.  Our relationship with AI should be a good and healthy friendship.

Sunny: Yes, it is! Thank you for sharing Mr. Mende!