Setting the Stage

Setting the Stage 

credit:  https://www.pinterest.com/pin/499758889889807127/

 DTS is almost here – in just one week we’ll be getting together – minus the armor, swords, and medieval lighting – and tackling what Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) means to the AEC industry, and how we can best position our firms and our selves in this evolving landscape. 

 

According to Gartner’s 2017 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle report, ML is just about ready to take a roller coaster-like dive into the ‘trough of disillusionment’.  After lots of talk and inflated expectations, there will be a letdown as the realities of early implementation come to light, and the hype gets put in check.  So how can we even out this trough in our firms?  What can we propose that demonstrates the positive aspects of AI, while keeping the disillusionment at bay?  

 

One idea we’ve discussed in the DTS Committee is to focus our conversations on the next several years, while keeping the longer-term view in the background.  Using this framework to think about ‘driverless car’ technology, we know it isn’t mature enough yet to eliminate the need to drive, but today it is useful in providing useful feedback and assistance to drivers.  

 

In the AEC space, two things that come to my mind are Proving Ground’s LunchBox ML plugin, and WeWork’s desk layout automation research.  The former is a tool that can be adopted now, and the latter describes a proof-of-concept that could be expanded to address more complex design scenarios. 

 

So be prepared for an intense, fun, and hopefully satisfying day and a half of conversations.  As you’re preparing for next week, keep the following in mind:   

 

  • What improvements can we begin over the next twelve months 
  • How will they benefit our practices, our work, and our lives, and  
  • How can they inform and accommodate the next wave of technological advancement? 

Knowledge Management, AI, and Mentorship

Are you as crazy about Google Maps as I am?  I really love being able to check it before leaving on a drive – if there’s traffic on my way, it will tell me.  If I need to reroute, I can avoid complications before I run in to them.  I can evaluate the best route, be on my way, and not worry.  Google will even correct mid-trip if it sees congestion and finds a better route.

 

In spite of my enthusiasm for Maps, I’m a little disappointed when I use it.  I find that I don’t recall the directions as well as I do when I have to figure out the route on my own.  I focus on obeying Google’s discrete, turn-by-turn directions at the expense of understanding the overall route.  In some ways I feel less prepared to make that trip again should my phone be unavailable, because I rely more on Google, and less on my brain.

 

Bringing this back to the topics at hand, I’m curious to see if there are parallels between my use of Maps and a person’s use of AI-assisted Knowledge Management.  While I’m always in favor of retaining knowledge, I hope we can find a way to do so that augments rather than compromises the learning experience.  How can we make information available in a way that stimulates learning, and reinforces the mentorship model?

 

As one of our topics for this year’s DTS, I hope you’ll bring some thoughts on this topic to DTS this July.  Let’s discuss!

 

 

The Sky’s the Limit

Lostinfog / Flickr

I’m back from attending my first BILT/RTC event in Australia, its been two weeks now and I think I’m fully back on my native timezone! It was wonderful to get to meet a variety of new people and enjoy Australian hospitality. BILT ANZ was also a great way to get excited and motivated for the upcoming RTC Events Week North American, in particular of course the Design Technology Summit.

While the learning and networking were great, one of the biggest takeaways I had from traveling thirty hours (each way) is simply how far technology has come in the last decade. My departure night, I sat in Logan airport, fired up my computer that weighs 2lbs (if I’m lucky) connected it to my mobile phone for internet (free Wi-Fi isn’t that great in a busy airport) and proceeded to manipulate a database sitting in Edmonton Canada. Twelve (or maybe it was fourteen) hours later I was doing the same thing in Dubai (their free Wi-Fi actually works), at the same time I was texting with my wife back in the US. Hop on the plain, keep working (no internet this time). Landed in Australia, slept some and I was back on-line chatting with a coworkers on the West Coast of NA and following up with e-mail, meanwhile chatting with a colleague from the Sydney office who had arrived at Stantec’s Brisbane office.

Amazing right? I mean stop and think about it for a minute, how much do we take for granted what technology has become in the second decade of the 21st century, what we can slip into our pocket with a second thought. It really came home when passing through security back in Boston, they had to search my back-pack, something that is I’m not un-accustomed to. Usually though they like to pull out the multi-tool that has no blade, or the multi-function screw-driver, wrench, ruler combo. Not this time, this time the security agent who was near enough in age to me, pulled out my Ipod Classic, and his quote, “oh this old piece of technology, they’ve never seen an Ipod Classic”.

If technology has come as far as it has in the last ten years, what does the next ten years hold? I believe that we most definitely stand on a precipice, the edge remains cloaked in fog, so I don’t know which one we stand on, but we continue to edge closer. At the same time, once we can clear that fog, we’re going to be ready to take off and fly, like I took off and flew half-way around the world. Events like DTS are intended for us, Design Technology Leaders to engage in meaningful conversation about where are our firms, where are we going, what opportunities does technology offer how do we embrace it in a meaningful way, and how do we collectively improve not just our designs and our businesses, but the lives of our colleagues.

If you step back for a moment, and find that you too, too easily take for granted the transformation technology has wrought, then come to DTS, lets have a discussion about what the future holds and how are we going to be part of that, how will we help our firms through it and what is the future of the practice of design in an age when I can talk to a computer in my own home and have it modify my environment or remember my grocery list for me.

Our Future with Technology

It has now been two weeks now since attending my first BILT ANZ and I think I’m finally back on my native timezone! It was wonderful to get to meet a variety of new people and enjoy Australian hospitality. BILT ANZ was also a great way to get excited and motivated for the upcoming RTC Events Week North American, in particular of course the Design Technology Summit. 

 

While the learning and networking were great, one of the biggest takeaways I had from traveling thirty hours (each way) is simply how far technology has come in the last decade. My departure night, I sat in Logan airport, fired up my computer that weighs 2lbs (if I’m lucky) connected it to my mobile phone for internet (free Wi-Fi isn’t that great in a busy airport) and proceeded to manipulate a database sitting in Edmonton, Canada. Twelve (or maybe it was fourteen) hours later I was doing the same thing in Dubai (their free Wi-Fi actually works), at the same time I was texting with my wife back in the US. I then hopped back on the plane, working with no internet this time, landed in Australia and slept a little, then I was back online chatting with coworkers on the West Coast of NA, following up with emails, while also chatting with a colleague from the Sydney office who had arrived at Stantec’s Brisbane office. 

 

Amazing right? I mean stop and think about it for a minute, how much do we take for granted what technology has become in the second decade of the 21st century, what we can slip into our pocket without a second thought. It really hit home when I was passing through security back in Boston and they had to search my backpack. This is something that I’m not unaccustomed to. and usually they like to pull out the multi-tool that has no blade, or the multi-function screw-driver, wrench, ruler combo. Not this time, this time the security agent who was near enough in age to me, pulled out my Ipod Classic, and his quote, “oh this old piece of technology, they’ve never seen an Ipod Classic”. 

 

If technology has come as far as it has in the last ten years, what does the next ten years hold? I believe that we most definitely stand on a precipice, the edge remains cloaked in fog, so I don’t know which one we stand on, but we continue to edge closer. At the same time, once we can clear that fog, we’re going to be ready to take off and fly, like I took off and flew half-way around the world. Events like DTS are intended for us, Design Technology Leaders to engage in meaningful conversation about where are our firms currently, where are we going, what opportunities does technology offer, how do we embrace it in a meaningful way, and how do we collectively improve not just our designs and our businesses, but the lives of our colleagues. 

 

If you step back for a moment, and find that you too, too easily take for granted the transformation technology has wrought, then come to DTS, let’s have a discussion about what the future holds and how are we going to be part of that, how will we help our firms through it and what is the future of the practice of design in an age when I can talk to a computer in my own home and have it modify my environment or remember my grocery list for me. 

 

Join us at the Design Technology Summit, August 7-8, 2018 in St Louis, Missouri. Register your Interest Today!

 

The Death of the Physical Model?

Model building has been around since day 1 of architectural school for most of us, and for some, it even started when we were younger with a model car and smelling the glue. For the newer generations, it may have been the first LEGO model set at your fifth birthday party from Aunt Sue. No matter which generation you come from, building a model has been an integral part of the design process in architecture. The emotions a physical model creates by being able to touch, see, and spin it around cannot completely be replicated by a computer-generated image.

 

Even with all the technical advancements of computer 3D modeling, virtual reality, and photo-realistic rendering, model building has been on the decline in today’s architecture offices, yet most everyone proclaims that it is a needed tool that  architects should possess in their tool kits. The industry has been continually developing the process in which we can take a computer-generated model and automate the model building process.

 

Well my Aunt Sue would say “I don’t understand all this computer stuff, but I know that one of my freshly baked peach pies is a lot more palatable than some computerized pie on a screen.” And she has a point. Our 5 senses working in unison help us understand to a much greater degree. The more of our senses that we can engage in our models and visualizations, the more understanding our clients may have. Must everything we do be so strictly digital?

 

To learn more, make sure you’re registered for this year’s DTS in St Louis on August 7-8, 2018.