Artificial intelligence may have seemed like science-fiction fantasy decades ago, but with the recent advancements in computer technology, AI plays an ever-increasing role in our personal and professional lives. Understanding how artificial intelligence is affecting the construction industry and what it can do for a construction project can help property owners, investors, and builders as they plan for the coming years.
What Is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial intelligence is often loosely defined. In movies, artificial intelligence takes the form of computers that have the ability to learn. These fictional computers have a much greater capacity for critical thought and understanding than humans.
In present-day applications, AI is very different. Objects with AI are tasked with relatively simple jobs that were previously left for humans, because computers with AI have the ability to analyze and synthesize information like people.
Artificial intelligence is possible because of algorithms that identify patterns and simulate various types of “learning”. In its most basic form, a computer may be programed to learn the difference between various objects and identify those objects based on those patterns.
In a more advanced form, computers with artificial intelligence may learn to understand language, follow sentences, respond to questions, process images and make reasonably intelligent decisions for themselves. Artificial intelligence is found in many commercially available items like home assistants, smart phones and even in thermostats in smart homes.
What Is the Role of Artificial Intelligence In Construction?
In the construction industry, artificial intelligence can be found playing different roles. Here are some examples of what artificial intelligence can do to assist with construction.
Construction Plan Creation
When creating construction plans, the planner must combine information from the environment with imagined drawings of the potential building. Construction plans typically involve 3D maps, surveys, blue prints and ultimately the image of the final product as it would sit in the existing environment. Computers that create construction plans can do the work more efficiently than human planners. Artificial intelligence enables a robot to do in a day what a person might take a week or more to finish.
Normally it is a human who assigns work to different employees, maps out the schedule and manages elements of the budget in a construction project. However, in some cases, computers can do this just as quickly as a person. In fact, some clerical work is perfect work for a computer because they can do it tirelessly and at all hours of the day.
The construction industry is no stranger to utilizing technology to increase profitability, safety, and more. Usually engineers determine how a building will be built, using what materials and what method. Artificial intelligence does not trump human intelligence in this regard, but computers can make recommendations that can help engineers decide what methods to use. Sometimes computers can draw on a wider range of information to help them determine the best method for creating a building.
Use in Building Systems
Artificial intelligence is now used in modern buildings and homes to control comfort and improve efficiency and ROI. Many people see artificial intelligence on a day to day basis in smart products like smart thermostats, smart security systems, smart blinds and so on. Smart products can be used in commercial construction as well as residential construction. Smart products can be found in both types of buildings.
This is one of the most common ways that artificial intelligence can be used in modern construction. Smart products are, in fact, sought after by many home owners and commercial building owners. Whereas computers that build and design buildings can be an intimidating, remote concept, smart computers are an accepted reality in businesses and residences.
What Are the Barriers to AI?
Not everyone welcomes artificial intelligence into their life or their work place. There are certain tasks in which machines simply cannot process subjective information with the same effectiveness as humans. Some people are resistant to including computers that use artificial intelligence in their construction outfit. Some worry that their jobs will be put at risk if a computer can do it for less money. Other people simply prefer to work with humans, and find machines off-putting. As society moves forward, these questions and concerns will likely need to be answered in some way.
Finally, although computers can save money in the long run, some construction outfits do not invest in computers because of the up-front costs. Not many construction companies use artificial intelligence, although the technology is technically available now.
Regardless of these barriers, many companies and property owners are becoming more open to the idea of using artificial intelligence in the construction of their commercial and residential projects. It stands to be seen exactly how much the up-front costs will need to drop before wide-spread usage begins, but it would not be out of the ordinary if larger companies start adopting more of this technology in the coming years.
Anthony Gilbert REALTOR® ABR®
The REALFX Group – Washington
7829 Center Blvd Suite 309
Snoqualmie, WA 98065