If you think BMW’s designs are polarizing now, just wait until BMW designers start using artificial intelligence to assist them. According to a recent interview with Top Gear, BMW’s design boss Adrian van Hooydonk said that the Bavarian brand has experimented with AI design. Thankfully, he also said it won’t be replacing any humans.
“We are experimenting with it in design, for instance in wheel design,” he told Top Gear. “You can set a few parameters like, you want a five spoke wheel, it should only weigh this much, it should be a 20-inch rim, and then the computer begins to generate ideas for you.”
That admittedly does seem like a helpful tool if you’re trying to figure out which designs are structurally sound. Let’s say, for instance, you really want to make a five spoke wheel but want to know how thin they can be while still withstanding a certain strength for track use, AI might be able to come up with some interesting design ideas to start with. However, a human still has to guide the AI and then further any design it were to create.
Unsurprisingly, van Hooydonk says the brand also messed with entirely AI-designed cars. The curiosity to see what that might be like is understandable. However, so unsurprisingly, the designs weren’t very good. According to van Hooydonk, they might look good at first but then you realize that there’s something off about AI designed cars.
“That’s because the computer combines images that already exist online and puts it together into a car. That’s not how a designer’s brain works. In a designer’s brain, you combine, say, a lamp, a painting, an old car and a new one, and that becomes your new car because your inspiration comes from all of these things.”
I’ll take that one step further, though. It doesn’t matter if AI can successfully design a car or not. AI design completely ruins the beauty of design. The reason why car designs are beautiful is that they come from a human mind. Someone created something they felt was visually beautiful, something that resonated with them, made them feel something, and then hoped, once they shared it with the world, that other people would feel the same. There’s also personal risk involved—will other people like what I made? Someone put themselves out there, put a piece of themselves on paper and turned it into a reality for the world to see. There’s no risk in AI design, no personality and, therefore, no beauty.
As an engineering tool, nothing more than a fancy calculator? I get that. Figure out the math to understand what’s structurally possible, then design around that. In fact, it might even help designers because it can show them that certain designs they didn’t think were technically possible actually were. However, when it comes to actual design, car companies really need to leave it to humans.
[Source: Top Gear]