Artificial intelligence is a branch of computer science concerned with “getting a computer to do things which, when done by people, are said to involve intelligence”* (*according to John McCarthy, who coined the term “AI”). AI is an interdisciplinary science with multiple approaches, but advances in machine learning and deep learning are creating both opportunities and dangers in nearly every technology and business sector. The timeline to significant change in architectural practice is shortening and AI raises many questions for the young generation. Some are these questions are ethical, others technical, many aesthetic: should we embrace AI, given that it has many biases from its training, and may displace the designer to bring about a posthuman era of practice?
This course examines the role of AI in the past, present, and future of architecture as a practice, rather than an aesthetic discipline. First, we examine the peaks of inflated expectations and troughs of disillusionment that have followed artificial intelligence in its applications to the built environment so far. Second, to understand where we probably are going, we examine case studies from industries further along in the AI adoption curve, such as mobile gaming and industrialized manufacturing. This course posits that the new epistemological structures AI will render on practice are complex, inevitable, and may reward new kinds of actors in our domain, architectural and otherwise. But we believe architects who accept the task of self-determining fresh methodologies of practice will have the opportunity to leverage AI toward profitable, ethical, and sustainable ends.