Goodbye MBSE Engineers?

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.

2 Responses

  1. Sahil Venkata METTA says:

    As person taking the first step as MBSE engineer soon, reading this article does confirm what I myself have speculated. Personally I already did use chatgpt in a project and surely I do understand exactly what this article stated! The next step is too identify what skillsets need to be acquired inorder to be able to do some Co-living with AI. Thank you for the amazing article!

    • Thank you very much for the lovely feedback. It is an exciting question as to what skills we should have in order to work together with the AI. One skill is certainly the ability to communicate with an AI.

      Specifically with regard to MBSE, I suspect that it will become even more important to master the upper levels of abstraction, while the very detailed levels are more of a craft that can be taken over by an AI. This is similar to software engineering, where no one works with zeros and ones anymore, or only a few with assembler, but with more abstract programming and modeling languages.

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