Machine learning need not replace architects, Martha Tsigkari tells Building the Future Commission conference

New “rules of engagement” are needed to prepare the architectural world for the coming AI revolution, according to the chief of research at Fosters. 

Martha Tsigkari told a conference in London today that machine learning and artificial intelligence would bring an “unprecedented change” in the profession. 


Source: Daniel Gayne

Martha Tsigkari, speaking at the Building the Future Commission Conference

Addressing Building’s Building the Future Commission conference in London this afternoon, she said the world was “at a turning point akin to the creation of the printing press or the splitting of the atom”. 

Tsigkari, head of applied research and development at the practice, said the role of the architect remained “crucial” if AI systems were used in the right way. 

“The role of architects remains crucial as it brings to the table not only creativity and innovation, but also aesthetics and emotion, collaboration and communication, and ethics coupled with responsibility,” she said. 

“We know examples of small companies winning entire competitions through images created by diffusion and then struggling to deliver on the promise the AI system has imagined for them.

“But we do not want to use AI like that. We want to use these models to augment rather than replace our designers’ creativity.” 

She said that to achieve this, the industry would need to look at its frameworks and regulations.  

“To ensure that disruptive technologies augment and not replace our creativity, we need to start setting up appropriate rules of engagement,” she aded. 

“These rules will need to span data contextualization regulatory frameworks, IP education, and embedded bias in data and ethical considerations.”


About the commission

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The Building the Future Commission is a 12-month project looking at radical and challenging ideas that could help transform the built environment.

The campaign aims to tap into innovative ideas, amplify them and be an agent for change.

The major project’s work will be guided by a panel of major figures who have signed up to help shape the commission’s work culminating in a report published at the end of the year.

The commissioners include figures from the world of contracting, housing development, architecture, policy-making, skills, design, place-making, infrastructure, consultancy and legal. See the full list here.

The project is looking at proposals for change in eight areas:

>> Editor’s view: And now for something completely positive - our Building the Future Commission

>> Click here for more about the project and the commissioners

Building the Future is also undertaking a countrywide tour of roundtable discussions with experts around the regions as part of a consultation programme in partnership with the regional arms of industry body Constructing Excellence. There is also a young person’s advisory panel.