Laboratory of Artificial Intelligence for Design


Organic Design Automation Lab

H2020 proposal abstract for partners

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 leading role.

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 customer specifications.
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 difficult challenge.

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:
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:
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 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 future.
(The project name is provisional)

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