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“Get my tools, HAL”: AI in Construction

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has hit the headlines. AI in education, healthcare, Hollywood, finance, manufacturing and beyond—we all are debating it.

While it may be new in the mainstream, AI actually has been studied and developed since the 1950s, which sometimes is hard to fathom. Think about the 1968 movie “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and Hal introducing the possibility of AI to a world in which a person had not even walked on the moon yet.

Those engrossed in AI actually saw this recent surge coming because the ability for machines to learn from data—which we as a device-driven society create daily in mass quantity—can revolution so many industries. That same ability also translates into students cheating, writers no longer being authentic authors, financial advisors relying solely on algorithms, and other ethical and social issues. However, if done properly, AI has a place in every segment of construction.

For architects, 3D modelling can be enhanced with AI. The design process also could be streamlined with increased automation to spec materials and products that apply to a specific building type, in a certain region, meeting set standards and protocols.

For contractors, AI can help review product information, ultimately making jobsites safer and more efficient. It could help contractors bid projects, select materials, and track crews with more precision for safety concerns. This also might address the workforce shortage to some degree.

In manufacturing, AI has the most potential. We all rely on a certain level of machinery to manufacture our products. What if that machinery becomes more efficient, with a focus on quality, safety and sustainable practices?

AI is not part of our repertoire yet, but we are open to the possibility of adding such technology and machinery. This would not be done in an effort to replace humans. AI only works properly with human input, so we control AI capabilities and make advancements work for us.

A recent Forbes article reported construction as the least digitalized industry in the world. Think of the possibilities if we as an industry ethically adopt AI to improve productivity and safety, reduce risk, focus on sustainability, maintain budgets and overcome a labor shortage. Yes, the concerns and challenges surrounding AI are real, and so are the possibilities.

For additional resources, check out this episode of the Digital Builder podcast. Also tune into the BUILD St. Louis podcast. They both bring perspective about AI and its impact in the construction industry.

Btw, this blog was written by a human.



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