Goodbye MBSE Engineers?
Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) is a necessary approach to tackle complex engineering tasks. Since INCOSE’s first vision document in 2007, it has been predicted that Systems Engineering means Model-Based Systems Engineering. Since last year at the latest, AI has been another technology to consider. At the intersection of MBSE and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is important to explore how these technologies will shape our future. This blog post looks at three different horizons, outlines the evolving landscape of MBSE and AI, and addresses the crucial question: Can we say goodbye to MBSE engineers?
First Horizon: Today and the Next 3 Years
Currently, we witness a divide in companies regarding their adoption of MBSE. While some struggle with the transition from document-based methods, others who have embraced MBSE are reaping its benefits in terms of quality and efficiency.
This gap is critical in the context of AI, as MBSE serves as the foundation for effective AI integration. AI, especially in its non-specialized forms, such as ChatGPT, is already showing promise in supporting MBSE tasks. These AI tools can collaborate with engineers, shifting the focus from creating models to understanding and interpreting them. The role of the engineer is to guide the AI in the development of models based on specific criteria. MBSE experts are still essential, but their role will increasingly be to work with AI systems, focusing on model interpretation rather than creation. Much is already technically possible today. The limit is primarily the people and organizations.
Second Horizon: Starting in 3 Years
Projecting three years into the future, AI is likely to become an integral part of MBSE processes. A significant shift may occur where AI-generated solutions in system architecture become so advanced that they surpass human comprehension. For example, we saw in the game of Go where AI strategies that were initially incomprehensible to humans proved to be victorious (see AlphaGo). The role of systems engineers will evolve. The need for individuals proficient in systems engineering tools like SysML modelers might decrease, while the importance of system architects and their interaction with customers and organizational units will likely persist.
Third Horizon: Starting in ‘X’ Years
The number X is exciting, and it is difficult to predict exactly what will happen then. It is the time when AI starts to overtake us, which is also called Singularity. The third horizon is the most speculative, as it involves a period where AI’s role in engineering is profoundly transformative. Here, AI could potentially relegate system engineers to a narrower range of tasks, significantly reducing their involvement in the core engineering processes.
Conclusion: Navigating the Future
The future of MBSE and AI is a journey through these three horizons, each marked by increasing AI involvement and evolving engineering roles. While the progression is inevitable, it’s crucial to recognize and set limits to ensure that these technological advancements remain beneficial and controlled. The EU’s AI Act is a prime example of proactive governance in this domain.
As we venture into this new era of digital engineering and AI, it’s not about resisting change but rather adapting and shaping it, ensuring that we harness its potential responsibly.