Artificial Intelligence instead of Lighting Designers?

Artificial Intelligence instead of Lighting Designers?

by Joachim Ritter

It’s the buzzword of the day: artificial intelligence, or AI for short. Addressing this topic is basically a call to all of us to give some serious, or at least intelligent thought as to how we can best develop artificial intelligence so that in the end we can leave the creative work to the more intelligent ones among us.

To be completely clear: I don’t have anything against intelligence, or against artificial intelligence for that matter. We are now able to artificially inseminate – why shouldn’t we take the opportunity to extend our intelligence artificially? And anyone who needs additional support in future will be able to resort to “intelligent” means to compensate any deficits.

For us as lighting designers that means that anyone who is not adequately qualified to deliver solutions that are in the interest of the people who use the lit spaces can use the tools and means available to “do the job”, even if these are of an artificial nature. Software, as recent history has shown, is definitely an effective resource when it comes to our daily work. But it is not intelligent. It is still up to us to decide how we apply it and what solutions we want to achieve. Design rather than templates. Human needs rather than standards or a blanket approach. You know what would be intelligent? If robots could understand the emotional processes human beings undergo. There are a number of pop songs we are all familiar with. In Germany, Herbert Grönemeyer is famous for a song entitled “Mensch” (Man):

And man’s called man
‘Cause we forgive and understand
We forget and we deny
We lose and still we try
‘Cause we love
‘Cause we live

But come on, lighting designers – no need to worry. Lighting design is not only closely linked with technology, structure and intelligence; it also has to do with emotions. Man is still the measure of all things. And his feelings can change from one day to the next. No level of intelligent art can replace this natural creative process.

So let us stand up for natural intelligence in lighting design, ride the “bio-waveʺ and refrain from resorting to shallow intelligent ways and means that may appear to flaunt unlimited knowledge, but are not able to respond flexibly to emotion-based input and rely solely on rational response to situations. There is no future for 100% rationality. Would it otherwise make sense to rebuild Notre Dame as it originally was? AI is not able to decide on significance and cultural meaning. Only man can do that with his albeit lower but by far deeper level of intelligence.

Or should we consider founding an association that is more intelligent than any other – and call it the AILD: Artificial Intelligence of Lighting Designers?

That said, let us talk about this face to face. AILD will be a topic at PLDC 2019 in Rotterdam. It is all about the sense and nonsense of artificial intelligence.


  • Koert Vermeulen says:

    I agree and I don’t agree with the statement. If you say AI instead of Lighting Designers: then I agree with your statement: AI cannot replace the Lighting Designer. But if the statement is AI or Lighting Design: then my answer is full-heartedly: AI will replace lighting design.
    I don’t have the update of the numbers for 2018, but in 2016 the number of commercial buildings in Germany and UK who are using a Lighting Designer fell short of 10%. If you would count the residential and housing market on top of this then it would be even less then 4%.
    That means that still more then 95% of all “lighting design” is done by engineers, electrical installers, by wholesale distributors, by the manufacturers and maybe just not at all…
    I believe an AI could be very helpful in working on that 95% and give that the tools and attention it deserves to get better design.
    Better AI design, then no design at all…

    • Joachim Ritter says:

      Thank you Koert for your statement. I fully agree with you. The intention of my comment was to make clear that a good use of AI, guided by the lighting designer makes the most sense. But make sure the designer keeps the control. At least of the decisions.

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