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  • Frederick Rickmann

How to think forward when your AI is thinking backwards

In today's fast-changing world of product creation, innovation always seems to be the name of the game. In most boardrooms you will hear that keeping ahead of the curve is not just an aspiration; it's a necessity. In this quest for innovation, AI has emerged as a valuable tool. So as an industrial designer, it's hugely worthwhile that I try it out. AI has revolutionized industrial product design in numerous ways. It offers us designers and engineers the ability to generate innovative concepts, virtually prototype designs, and optimize various aspects of a product. On the surface, its impact is undeniable, making the design process more efficient, cost-effective, and, in many cases, even more creative. But I found that there's a catch.

It's important to recognize that AI has its limitations, particularly when it comes to predicting the future. The power of AI lies in its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and generate insights based on patterns from the past. You can see immediately that this strength is also its limitation. AI's predictive capabilities are rooted in historical data. It can only access what is already there on the internet. It doesn't have any crystal ball to predict future trends.

Imagine AI as an incredibly knowledgeable librarian, but one who only has access to books published in the past. While this librarian can provide you with a wealth of historical information, they can't tell you about tomorrow's bestsellers because those books haven't been written yet. Similarly, AI relies on existing data, which can't anticipate the yet-to-be-created designs of the future.

This is where human creativity steps in. While AI can assist in the design process, it can't replace the innovative thinking, the "out of the box" ideas, and the visionary imagination of human designers and engineers. AI as it is today can never think out of the box, because IT IS THE BOX. True innovation often springs from the fertile minds of these professionals who push the boundaries of what's possible. Great leaps of imagination. All the designs in this blog were done by myself using an AI software in a couple of afternoons. They are still very artificial in definition and indeed a bit American in expression. But of course that is what the AI programme has available in cyberspace. I hope that with more European designers working in AI, that natural style can be more visible.

So in industrial product design, AI is a powerful ally, but ain't no crystal ball. It complements our human creativity and efficiency rather than replacing them. To stay ahead of the curve, it's essential to recognize its limitations and implement ways that build on its strengths. In the end, it's the creative minds of designers that will continue to shape the future of product design.

I invite you to share your thoughts on the role of AI in product design. What challenges have you encountered, and what solutions have you found? Let's continue this discussion on the future of AI in industrial product design. Together, we can shape the future of design innovation.



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