Top 10 AEC AI Disruptions, by 2027

16May17

by Derek Graham

Historically, the construction and building industries tend to fall on the lower scale of tech-savvy, or digital-bandwidth, owing to a lack of skilled practitioners, and a paucity of training and investment in their constituency, but moreso to a general disdain for technology that creates a techno-disconnect between the design and building, and tech and building industries.

This lameness is not isolated: the conundrum exists in Europe, Australia, and in China:

The concept of Artificial Intelligence is interpolated in many different ways, depending on who you talk to. Like any abstract subject, the less one comprehends, the less one can see the possibilities. A software developer will have considerable more insight into potential AI technology than a lay person. That said, not all lay people are of equal tech-savvy.

Historically, the building industry has maintained a Flinstonian antagonism toward productivity enhancements, as people fear (rightly) for their jobs.

Owing to a general incompetence (30% success rate) and obdurate negative productivity growth (see graph, above), the construction industry will experience AI disruption that it never saw coming. Traditionally, technology advances trickle down from the design to the building industry. Such was the case with AutoCadd, and to a lesser extent BIM. BIM is not at all well mainstreamed into the building industry, as it is with design industry, despite fake-news I have refuted in this column.

Project controls: estimation and planning – the black-sheep of the building industry family, will be one of the first professions to be (gradually) outphased as a consequence of AI evolution.

BIM is fairly well mainstreamed in the design industry for projects over the $25M level, but the caveat is that designers have become over-reliant on BIM clash-detections to the point that many may not even bother to do any at all. Those operators who do not are at high risk of imminent obsolescence at the behest of Revit Auto-route.

If current performance is any indication, the design industry is also ripe for disruption. Or rather, there is a lot of opportunity to streamline the design process. AI integration into the design industry will translate to a fraction of present resources for a markedly more efficient output product.

Detroit never saw the Rust Belt days ahead of them: that led to their own undoing. AI will inevitably hit the building industry, which is basically living in Bedrock.

The disruption is already evident with platforms that generate algorithmic modeling and optimization of spaces, where the operator assigns some basic parameters and criteria, and a fully coordinated dynamic BIM model is automatically generated using generative design. You can see this in action, in the AutoDesk video, below.

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In the (above) video, BIM takes a volume of space, some program criteria, and hashes out algorithmically optimized complete design models, with concrete, steel, exterior, and interior fit-out and MEP all inclusive. As the parametrics shift, so do the design programs within.

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