Anything that requires human intelligence to deal with different complex human behavioral issues isn’t going to be replaced by AI any time soon, if ever.
I have heard a lot of noise out there about how artificial intelligence is going to make architects, engineers, etc., obsolete. I want to go on the record and say I don’t believe that one bit! Will AI be a tool that helps us design stuff? Absolutely. Will AI be a tool that helps do some writing? Sure. Will there be other uses for AI in our business that become evident over time? Most certainly.
The flaw in thinking AI is going to make all of those in the AEC business unnecessary is that so much of what we do in this business has nothing to do with just cranking out designs and construction drawings. For example:
- Can AI go sell a city council on rezoning a piece of property or giving a variance? No.
- Can AI meet with a lender to help a developer client get the preconstruction appraisal they need to finance a project? No.
- Can AI get a building committee for a new building at a university to all agree on everything about the project before it gets built? No.
- Can AI help angry local homeowners who are running out of well water because the local farm is using all of it? No.
I could obviously go on and on here, but I think I have made my point. Anything that requires human intelligence to deal with different complex human behavioral issues isn’t going to be replaced by AI any time soon, if ever. There are just too many variables to consider.
The AEC business has a long runway ahead. We have a massive talent shortage that isn’t easing one bit. We live in an increasingly complex world. We have exploding needs from growth. We have constant deterioration of everything. We have pollution, weather events, resource scarcity, and so many more issues and problems that AI can hopefully help us with, but not replace us.
What all of this tells me is that as individual firm owners and managers, we need to focus on finding and developing people with business, social, and communication skills. When you start out with a shortage of people who have the requisite technical and design skills, and then only a fraction of those people have the interpersonal and “soft” skills you need, it won’t be easy. These kinds of capabilities are going to be more important than ever. Companies that can assemble the best teams of people will thrive. Those that don’t will inevitably decline.
So what are you going to do in your AEC firm to combat the threat of new technology? You have a plan and are taking action, right?
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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