The construction industry has witnessed a surge in technological advancements. Most recently, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a promising tool. Generative AI has the potential to revolutionize various aspects of the construction process, from design and planning to project management and decision-making. However, as with any newer technology, the implementation in construction businesses comes with security concerns, risks, and the need for robust governance measures. Let us explore the challenges and solutions associated with the adoption of generative AI in the construction industry.
The Security concerns associated with generative AI
Generative AI relies heavily on the vast amounts of data provided to help create models and generate designs. However, construction companies need to be careful to ensure that the data they provide the AI is properly protected to prevent unauthorized access, data breaches, intellectual theft, or misuse. To do this, construction companies need to implement robust data encryption, access controls, and secure storage solutions to help mitigate these risks.
Intellectual property (IP) protection
The use of generative AI introduces new challenges related to intellectual property rights. Construction firms need to establish clear guidelines and contractual agreements to address ownership, usage rights, and protection of AI-generated designs and models. These guidelines and contracts will help safeguard against unauthorized replication or misuse of proprietary designs.
The inherent risks that construction companies take when using generative AI
Bias and quality control
Generative AI algorithms learn from existing data. This means that the AI may inadvertently perpetuate biases present in the data, as it is unable to identify and avoid pre-existing biases. These biases in design or decision-making can have significant implications for safety, structural integrity, and environmental impact. With any use of generative AI, rigorous quality control processes, diversity in training data, and continuous monitoring need to be in place to help minimize the associated risks.
Unforeseen design outputs
While generative AI has the potential to generate unique and unconventional design solutions, it also introduces the risk of untested and unproven designs. Construction firms must be careful to strike a balance between embracing novel ideas and ensuring that the generated designs adhere to regulatory standards, safety requirements, and industry best practices. Failure to do so could have very severe repercussions, including safety violations and fines.
Suggested governance measures for the use of AI in the construction industry
Any construction company considering utilizing generative AI needs to establish comprehensive ethical frameworks. These frameworks need to address the potential ethical dilemmas arising from AI-generated designs and ensure the designs are compliant with legal and regulatory requirements. Firms need to involve diverse stakeholders, including architects, engineers, and AI experts, who can help develop these inclusive governance frameworks.
Understanding and transparency
Generative AI systems often operate as “black boxes,” making it challenging for stakeholders to understand how it arrived at specific design outputs. To foster trust and accountability, construction companies should strive for transparency in AI decision-making. By implementing mechanisms to explain and interpret the generated designs, construction firms can help stakeholders understand the underlying processes and can help them identify potential biases or errors.
Human oversight and expertise
While generative AI offers efficiency gains that should not be ignored, it is crucial to maintain human oversight throughout the design and construction processes. Architects, engineers, and domain experts must be ready to collaborate with AI systems to ensure that the generated designs align with project requirements, adhere to safety standards, and consider context-specific factors.
Contact Hartman to help advise you on how to get started with generative AI
Generative AI offers immense potential to transform the construction industry by streamlining design processes, enhancing creativity, and improving decision-making. However, construction companies must navigate the security challenges, mitigate risks, and establish effective governance measures to ensure the responsible and ethical use of this technology. By proactively addressing these concerns, construction firms can leverage the benefits of generative AI while maintaining the highest standards of security, safety, and compliance. Contact the construction technology experts at Hartman Executive Advisors to advise you on how to set up your generative AI program for success.