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Flow Fournier on Using AI to Design Better Futures


Sapient Dubai’s associate creative director shares his take on AI tech and trends, as well as explores a few tools that creatives should try their hand at, writes LBB’s Nisna Mahtani

Flow Fournier on Using AI to Design Better Futures

Joining Sapient - the digital transformation hub of Publicis Groupe - in 2019, Flow Fournier has been asking questions about how we can imagine, design and plan better futures with clients, using AI. With his unique background in UX design, as well as his brand and business experience, he’s able to connect the dots between ideas and people.

Now, as AI is on the tip of everyone’s tongue and questions about the future continue to arise, Flow is asking questions like ‘Could we leverage housing as a tool for social justice?’ and ‘What if our homes could form the basis for universal social security?’. With his mindset focused on the future, he’s keen to share why you should work with new tools rather than against them and the ethical way in which AI can provide affordable housing solutions.

Associate creative director Flow speaks with LBB’s Nisna Mahtani to share his thoughts. 

LBB> Let’s jump right in and speak about some of the tools, other than Midjourney and DALL·E 2 that creatives could be using right now?

Flow> I enjoyed trying my hand with Khroma to generate a flurry of gorgeous AAA-accessible palettes based on my personal taste – I used Lovo studio to play with voiceover content. I’m having some quite deep conversations every day with ChatGPT, it saves me so much time through useful pointers that boost my creative process.

However, all those things do not replace your creativity and productivity, they have the power to enhance it drastically. You have some people out there that are now creating entire movies at record speed and quality output. I sometimes hear clients or colleagues feeling anxious about new AI tools, but the best thing you can do to shake off that feeling is to open your internet browser and play with the new tools available, to see how you can make it work for you. 

LBB> How have you considered a future thinking mentality in your creative process and what was your path into this role at Sapient?

Flow> I had a career reset when I realised I had a real creative knack that I wasn’t exploiting properly. Today I can say it paid off, and I’ve been going to work with energy and passion ever since. I feel it’s also an evolution of business in general: people used to be boxed in as either creative or analytical, but fortunately, it’s not as much the case today.

Planning with ‘Futures Thinking’ consideration has been around for decades. The way in which I’m trying to evolve it now is by adding a layer of user-centred data to support findings. Gathering this data can be quite tricky because it’s traditionally hard for people to imagine what’s possible in the future, but I think it’s because we just didn’t have the right tools before, let alone gather reliable data around it. With modern tools and new approaches, we can now make it a lot easier for people to envision, relate to, and analyse different futures. We can now build hypotheses and go test them. We can tap into people’s subconscious, observe, learn and even model their reactions to unexpected events. I think we now have all the building blocks to build a new type of science.

LBB> You’ve mentioned using AI to support the housing crisis, specifically how it can provide affordable options for people. Why is this something you wanted to highlight?

Flow> Working in an agency context, we’re blessed with the opportunity to learn about new industries all the time. The opportunity to explore the future of housing came from a housing-related government account, which has the potential to impact many lives of UAE citizens.

There isn’t one single future of housing, but many possible scenarios, with different implications. At a basic level, AI might help us all access better housing through more efficient resource allocation, such as solving inefficiencies in the housing market and in the way today’s homes are run. As a result, today’s luxury home experience could be tomorrow’s commodity. But this is barely scratching the surface, only optimising our current understanding of what homes are.

LBB> Tell us a little bit more about how Sapient Dubai is supporting social housing through design solutions and some of the takeaways of the project so far. 

Flow> By leveraging generative design, we’re getting to a point where you can have reliable and functional variations of a layout, based on the same amount of materials, but rearranged in different ways. Trying out hundreds of possible combinations and layouts would typically require a lot of expensive working hours, making it impractical, both from a design and supply-chain perspective. But this could very well change in the near future, as soon as it gets the right attention and investment. 

The result would be houses that you could largely customise and re-arrange to suit your needs every few years, or with every new tenant or landlord, at a greatly reduced cost. It doesn’t mean you’ll get gold on the walls, but that many different house configurations will become readily available for all, both hardware and software.

LBB> How will affordable housing impact homeowners who buy through AI-supported developments?

Flow> If you look at it at face value, a house is just a bunch of concrete, but it gives you shelter, security, independence, power, and ultimately a certain level of freedom. That’s what makes it expensive today. But what if we could turn that bunch of concrete into a dynamic asset that gives families the security they need? What if we enabled houses to work for their owners? How do we leverage housing as a tool for social justice? What if your house could automatically create and manage resources, pool them, sell them on smart grids, rent out both physical, energetic, and digital assets on demand, or suggest auto-upgrades of construction materials to optimise energy efficiency?

LBB> Why is it so important to consider affordable housing solutions in 2023?

Flow> Now there is a 21st-century basis for universal social security. We hear a lot of tech moguls advocating universal basic income, but I would find that a much more ethical and sustainable way to achieve that. Would you rather earn a passive income from the house you live in, or depend on the goodwill of billionaires for it? Ultimately, it’s a question that could determine the future of our society. 

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Publicis Dubai, Mon, 27 Mar 2023 15:00:00 GMT