Automation, if you think in the terms of the history of robotics, was very trendy in the early '60s when robots were introduced in America to automate the mechanical assembly lines. Industrial robots started to be developed to replace the mechanical industrial worker. So, these were robots trained to imitate a human worker, to repeat the same gesture from sunrise to sunset because this is what the workers, which they were replacing, were meant to do. They are cheaper than actual human workers, they never get tired, they never sleep, they never strike; so from the point of view of a capitalist - that is a good thing to do. But for what we do in architecture, these kinds of robots don't have any use, because even the most advanced building site that we may conceive is still a very artisanal environment.
So, for our job, robotics only becomes useful if we can have intelligent robots who can perform intelligent movements by adapting themselves to different working conditions. This is called 'adaptive robotics', 'versatile robotics' or 'flexible robotics' which now exists. This is not a robot meant to replace an industrial worker, this is a robot meant to replace an artisan, an artisan dealing with the unpredictability of natural materials. This is the next frontier of robotics, which is probably important for some industries, but it is crucial for us. Because in architecture, in buildings, we mostly deal with unpredictable conditions. And we have to deal with a lot of natural material, and not with industrial material. Steel is a case in point. Steel is standard because it is an industrial material. Steel is always the same, which is why engineers can calculate steel so easily.
'This is the future of automation. Automation which allows us to avoid the wastefulness of the modern way of building; going back to the economics, to the daily rules of a society which was used to coping with limited resources, limited workforce, and almost no energy.'