It is highly probable that the ingeniousness, the
physical reasoning and the spatial imagination will be of the last
cognitive functions to be conquered by the artificial intelligence (AI).
Maybe because of that the professionals of engineering, architecture
and other scientific or creative disciplines, are unaware about the
transcendence that the AI could play in the way they work. The society
and policymakers already know that jobs like factory workers, waiters,
clerks or drivers will be deeply affected by the advances in automation
technologies, and they are preparing to deal with that situation.
However, apparently nobody is waiting such remarkable effects in the
most intellectual demanding professions commonly called STEM (science,
technology, engineering and mathematics).
The truth is that there are not impenetrable walls for AI and, soon or
later, in one way or another, the automation of activities like
engineering will also occur. The clues are there and to ignore them is a
serious error. STEM professions are strategic for the present and
future of the economy, industry, competitiveness and wellbeing of our
society. It must be taken into account that these professions are
responsible for the creation of technology, so the impact of AI-based
automation in them will imply a multiplicative effect. Scenarios
characterized by disruptive changes in those critical contexts should be
envisioned and managed as soon as possible by the EU in order to play a
As it happens with biological organisms, the organic design of a
physical system (PS) is a conglomerate of spatial regions with
specific functions interconnected through corridors, wires, pipes,
ducts, etc. They are joined together by means of a structure that can be
internal like a skeleton, or external like a shell. That structure is
the support of all elements and subsystems. Although modern CAD tools
have boosted the productivity of designers, the engineering process of a
complex PS is iterative, costly and still relying on the expertise of a
multidisciplinar team of designers requiring a lot of time and effort.
The project ODAL aims to discover and develop the cognitive
technologies necessary to build an AI able to emulate the imagination
and creativity of a human engineer. Hypothetical reasoning, generative
design or knowledge based engineering can be sources of inspiration, but
the objective is not to interpolate among existing designs nor to
generate altered configurations from highly parametrized models. At the
end this technology should be able to generate unconventional and
radically new designs, not necessarily conceivable for a human mind, but
at the same time being physically viable, preserving manufacturability
conditions beyond 3D printing and, obviously, fulfilling the original
This AI showing inventive capabilities and liberated from the
complexity, modularity and aesthetic constrains of the human brain will
have obvious consequences on the productivity of engineering or other
design activities, and thus on the whole industry and competitive
landscape. To develop such an artificial imagination engine and to feed
the corresponding knowledge base with the thousands of logical-physical
rules that conform the mind of an engineer is a colossal and extremely
Although the project LAI4D
has a very different goal and a minor scale,
the acquired experience and the learned lessons will be of great help
since it shares some important parallelisms with the project ODAL.
Both are long term R&D projects trying to emulate complicated cognitive
functions related to spatial imagination. Both make use of an expert
system that combines computational geometry, devious heuristics and
several conventional and unconventional AI algorithms. And both are in
the frontier of knowledge.
The titanic endeavour required to carry out this proposal needs partners
that can provide expertise in one or several of the following fields:
- Management of research teams.
- Development of scientific or computer aided design tools.
- Development of physical calculation or simulation tools.
- Computational geometry, computer science.
- Artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics.
- High performance computing and AI oriented hardware.
- Previous experience coordinating H2020 proposals is particularly valuable.
Other profiles related to economy, sociology, management, communication, ethics, cybersecurity or creative arts could also be convenient.
The members of the multidisciplinar team of researchers will preferably
have an scientific background and the following soft skills:
- Deal with complexity.
- Avoid orientation to consensus.
- Availability to learn and develop rather explored technologies.
- Perseverance and patience for a work without results in the short or medium term.
- Not to demoralize if a long research path fails.
Persons with a strong belief in the magic nature of the human condition,
endorsing assertions of the kind “Machines will never be able to...” are
not a good asset for this project.
Proposal for the call Horizon 2020 - Future and Emerging Technologies - Open Challenging Current Thinking (RIA - funding rate 100%).
Those interested in the project can contact LAI4D
through the partner profile at the EC Participant portal.
Additionally they can also contact through the email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please, include ODAL in the subject.
We encourage individuals and
organizations to express their interest in the project regardless of
their country. Although not all
countries are eligible for funding under the EU program H2020, the
proposal could fail so other non-EU funding options may be considered in
(The project name is provisional)