2022: The Year AI Takes Center Stage

By Prith Banerjee, CTO at Ansys.

  • 2 months ago Posted in

Despite ongoing covid restrictions in many countries, 2021 still managed to bring yet another year of mass technological innovation. We’ve seen everything from the acceleration of green hydrogen, to the breakthrough of messenger RNA that brought us two of the most effective COVID vaccines, to even more advanced language computer models.

While innovations continue to evolve, Prith predicts that 2022 will see simulation and artificial intelligence (AI) become even more powerful than ever.

AI is Every Organisation’s Golden Ticket

Simulation is governed by the laws of physics. Historically, physics-based simulation is used to enable customers to “test run” hundreds of different product designs, without the need for physical prototypes. However, if used on a complex product, the simulation process can take thousands of hours. But with AI, you could accelerate the simulation by factors of 100, and that all comes down to training with data via AI engineering, which Gartner named one of its top strategic trends.

AI engineering, in terms of simulation, involves feeding the simulation program multiple use cases – valves with different input and boundary conditions, for instance — which result in different outputs. However, the amount of training data needed in simulation is extortionate, which caused many engineers to simply turn their backs on it. Current work with a machine learning-based partial differential equation solver allows for this training to occur with far less data, while retaining the same level of accuracy. This faster, more efficient way of running a simulation is set to pave the way for product development in the future.

You’ve likely heard of generative design, which enables an engineer to present an idea and define the design space constraints so that an algorithm can provide thousands of possible designs meeting those constraints. Topology optimisation is a common use of generative design. But, with generative AI, a program can use existing information – CAD models, images, text, video, etc. – to generate new ideas at scale.

With the power of fast simulation, these designs can be rapidly generated, and the computer will offer up the best designs, saving huge amounts of time and money. Much like receiving recommendations after searching for a product on Amazon, generative AI will offer design recommendations that may not have been thought of initially. The resultant boost in creativity will prove to be important in 2022 and beyond, as companies look to keep up with the ever-evolving market demands.

Reach for the Stars and You’ll Land Among the Clouds

Without the cloud, efficient collaboration is next to impossible. With engineers often located across the globe, design updates are sent back and forth through complex email chains, which inevitably only serve to stunt creativity. Transporting your design software to the cloud allows engineers to simultaneously work on a single design. Design, simulation, and AI can all be done on the cloud, allowing engineers to truly collaborate in real time, resulting in more accurate and faster design.

Some companies are hesitant to upgrade to cloud storage, citing concerns over the safety of their data. Using a legacy system puts your data’s safety into the hands of the 10 or so cyber experts within your company. On the cloud, your data is protected by thousands of security experts from leading organisations, and its arguably safer that way. Fear of the unknown should not deter you from the cloud. Whether your cloud is public, private, or hybrid, these tools can be leveraged to enable employees to work collaboratively.

The Magic Ingredient? Data.

There is a perfect storm of activity occurring today that will facilitate the use of AI in the year ahead. Historically, the cost of storing data was so high, only a limited amount of training data was stored and used for AI, rendering it a somewhat inaccurate venture. Thanks to the cloud, you can store large amounts of data for next to nothing, allowing you to better train your AI for less. Thanks to simulation, we now have access to many different types of data, and given the accessibility of open-source data, the opportunities for advancement in AI and simulation are vast.

AI is not a replacement for human designers and engineers, but it will make you even more powerful. Technology allows us to stretch our own capabilities. Before calculators, we had to rely on mental math and written equations, before AI we had to rely on designing by-hand through trial and error. Organisations using data-powered AI engineering and generative AI while collaborating on the cloud are set to pave the way for a new league of innovation in 2022.

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