Modern design is not just informed by pure aesthetics and taste, but also by creating environments that better suit humans. From Apple's introduction of Night Shift to iOS, cutting out blue light from your iPhone at night to improve your sleep, to the practice of place-making, to build communities around public spaces, there are examples all around us of design improving human lives.
But the rise of autonomous robots is about to make it more complicated to create spaces purely with humans in mind. From self-driving cars to household helpers, AI-powered machines will perceive the world differently to us. Common tricks to make spaces more pleasant for humans can bamboozle machines. Mirrors create whole other worlds for AIs and noise-damping carpets or baffles confound positioning systems.
Maybe future developments in sensors and AI will overcome these hurdles, and machines will be able to achieve human-like understanding of the world around it.
But I think it's more likely that we will start to see our built environment designed to accommodate both humans and robots. The flip side of that view-point though, as shown in the quote below, is the potential to build environments to deliberately confuse the machine. Why bother hacking a self-driving car if mirrors and camouflage can confuse it?
We had so-called “dazzle ships” in World War I, for example, and the design of perceptually baffling military camouflage continues to undergo innovation today. But what is anti-robot architectural design, or anti-robot urban planning, even anti-robot public infrastructure, and how could it be strategically deployed as a defensive tactic in war?