Another way of thinking about design is in how we manage data. Making sense of the world requires a
discriminative approach that looks for correlations in data and builds predictive models. How we make change in
the world, however, involves generative models that produce new data. Managing the incredible amount of data
available in our modern world has paralleled the development of computer technology and we have come to rely to a
large extent on computational approaches in analyzing data. Such approaches are quickly becoming more than computational machines for crunching numbers. Machine learning techniques such as neural networks and genetic
algorithms are advancing towards strong artificial intelligence. Another milestone in this progress happened recently
in May of 2017 when Google’s program AlphaGo beat a master player at the game of Go. Artificial intelligence (AI)
as a generative tool has the potential to profoundly affect our physical environment. Architects must incorporate this
technology if we are to remain relevant and address the complexity inherent in designing our built environments.
The following section discusses how the design profession is responding to the complex challenges we face by
incorporating computer technology and artificial intelligence into the design process. This shift represents a
paradigm shift and in some important ways designers must rise to the challenge of incorporating modern
technologies while at the same time remaining valid within an increasingly automated process.
Researchers and designers are beginning to rise to Jacobs’ challenge by utilizing computer based tools to address the
problems facing us today. The real-world problems architects must face are multifaceted. They represent a gradient
from coarse to fine grained issues such as: ecology, civilization, culture, economics, typology, precedent, life-cycle,
energy/resource use, ergonomics, materials and tectonics etc. Computer-based tools have a large impact on
architecture and city planning but, until recently, have effectively bypassed the design field and consequently the
enormous historic precedent inherent in architecture.
Architecture has traditionally been the province of designers trained in architecture but not necessarily in computer
science, yet the tools of the architect are becoming increasingly computer-based. Conversely, computer scientists are
often not trained in design and yet their work is having a large effect on how buildings are designed and built and
consequently on our built and natural environments.