How AI Is Making Construction
By Dr. Dan Patterson
August 26, 2020
The proliferation of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has been a boon to the construction industry. It’s freed up project planners from dealing with the very time-intensive stuff that they would normally have to sift through — such as a paper trail or a traditional data base. It’s allowed them to focus more on analyzing risk and building better plans more efficiently.
But there has been a measure of pushback to this evolving technology. There is a feeling in some corners that this advanced computing is taking over parts of the human component and making some jobs obsolete. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For some time, construction has been lagging well behind other industries in its adoption of digital tools. AI represents a step forward that will only improve project delivery and optimize project outcomes.
The Human Aspect of AI and Machine Learning
Machine learning is the ability for a computer to learn from its mistakes and get smarter over time. In very simple terms, the computer can eventually self-adjust. For instance, a computer may have an algorithm that it uses to make suggestions as to relevant durations. If that algorithm is returning suggestions that aren’t necessarily accurate, the computer can now learn they are not accurate and adjust the way it makes suggestions and mines information.
AI boils down to a computer being able to consume information it’s been fed from humans, digest it, and then make intelligent suggestions. When these machines can digest huge amounts of intelligent, historical data, it’s obvious the power of AI is to become a pseudo-expert. With AI, things become just a little bit less “fuzzy” in the world of project management.
Again, all of this digitized historical data comes from human experts — the seasoned professionals. The best way to forecast the future is to look back and use valuable knowledge gained from past experiences. The ability now to quickly mine through those vast sums of historical data and apply context to it frees up the professionals — the humans — to focus on more important tasks that relate to construction project management.
AI and Machine Learning Only Help
AI and machine learning will never replace the human factor. In fact, far from it. AI represents a big step in the right direction, away from the start-from-scratch approach that humans were faced with in traditional construction project management. Together, AI and machine learning can assist in creating more realistic, achievable project plans — plans that ultimately lead us toward successful project completion.