There is a wealth of information, both accurate and misleading, being circulated all around us about artificial intelligence (AI). Recent media coverage has highlighted the rapid advancements in AI, with many outlets taking a negative stance. At Zweig Group, we recognize the importance of understanding AI, its potential implications, and the tremendous opportunities it might bring to an overheated AEC industry. However, we believe it is essential that we approach this emerging technology with intention and avoid instilling fear in people.
It is undeniable that AI has the potential to revolutionize the AEC industry, much like the introduction of CAD several decades ago. While there have been significant technological advancements in recent years, AI’s impact could be even more profound and will happen much faster. Nonetheless, many in the industry may be hesitant to adopt this new technology quickly, preferring to rely on proven tools and wait for more data before making significant changes.
However, firms that take the time to learn and adapt to AI could gain a competitive advantage over those that are slower to adopt. Last week, we partnered with Kristin Kautz, CPSM, of JAM Idea Agency to discuss “The State of Artificial Intelligence in AEC.” Here are a few of my takeaways:
- This quote from Kristin is spot on: “AI is not a piece of software. It is a pervasive shift – systemically – in our workforce.” With this comes inherent problems that we need to take seriously.
- While a powerful tool, AI does come with some risks, including data security, bias and discrimination, and ethical concerns such as accountability, transparency, and the potential for misuse or abuse of AI technologies. We have to be ready.
- Your employees are already using AI. Firms will need to quickly develop policies and procedures for the use of AI in the workplace.
- AI will have an impact on the entire organization from CEO and leadership to marketing, legal to human resources, technical design to accounting, etc. This is not just another IT issue.
- AI will not replace humans, but it will help us be more efficient and possibly bring some relief to the overworked staff in the industry.
There are several ways in which AI could be utilized in the AEC industry, including:
- Generative design. AI could generate optimized designs by taking into account a wide range of parameters and constraints. For example, an architect could use AI to generate optimized building layouts based on factors such as site conditions, zoning regulations, and cost.
- Materials science. Using AI, we could accelerate the discovery and development of new materials with desirable properties by analyzing vast amounts of data and identifying patterns. This technology could also help predict material behavior under different conditions and optimize performance and durability.
- Structural analysis. AI could enable faster and more accurate assessments of complex structures, identifying potential weaknesses, and enabling real-time monitoring for proactive maintenance and repairs.
- Sustainability. This technology could optimize building and infrastructure design for energy efficiency, reducing waste, and improving resource efficiency. It could also identify areas for energy reduction and optimize supply chain management.
- Quality control. AI could automate defect detection in quality control, ensuring high-quality products and materials. It could also optimize production processes by identifying areas where defects are likely to occur and enabling corrective action.
As this is a new and rapidly evolving field, there are still many unknowns. No one has all the answers, but we at Zweig Group are committed to leading with the best and brightest in this emerging field. We aim to carefully approach the implementation of AI to ensure that the AEC industry reaps the maximum benefits of what is likely a tremendous opportunity. We are forming a task force made up of experts from industry, academia, and tech. We expect this group to help provide solid and actionable advice on how to select, implement, and control this emerging technology. In the meantime, we’ve developed some resources and services to get you started on better understanding how you can intelligently leverage this powerful and industry changing force.
Chad Clinehens, P.E. is Zweig Group’s president and CEO. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.