A.I. STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES in AEC Applications

PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Posted on: 03/15/24
Written by: PSMJ Resources, Inc.
Topics: Technology

If there’s so much confusion about what A.I. is, does it really matter whether a machine actually exhibits artificial intelligence if it does the job it’s asked to do? In many cases, yes. A process or program functioning at the A.I. level holds many advantages over less sophisticated options. 

Here’s a look at some of the strengths and weaknesses of A.I. as it exists today. Strengths tend to focus on characteristics of efficiency, speed and precision. Weaknesses are more diverse, ranging from ethics to errors to security.

A.I.’S STRENGTHS

Data Processing and Analysis. A.I.-equipped tools excel at processing and analyzing vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently, enabling insights and decision-making that would take far longer and be far more difficult for humans. Generative A.I. design tools can explore numerous design possibilities based on specified parameters far faster and more extensively than the industry previously could. A.I. can conduct performance analysis to analyze environmental and structural data to optimize building performance, or simulate and assess the energy efficiency of buildings. 

• Predictive Analytics. “As an industry, from a reporting and analytics perspective, we’re kind of reactive,” says Lucas Hayden, Sr. Director of AEC Strategy for software solutions company Unanet. “We look at what has happened. With the predictive analytics you get with A.I., we look at what will happen. We can determine the best clients and projects to pursue, or when we’re going to need to hire more people for a particular set of skills for work in the pipeline. There’s so much opportunity to move to a more predictive and prescriptive way of running our projects and business.” 

• Automation. A.I. automates repetitive and routine tasks, leading to increased productivity and efficiency. This became a major factor for AEC firms worldwide in 2023. From cover letters to social media posts to expanding design options, architecture and engineering firms began automating many of their most mundane and time-consuming tasks. This is critical for an industry that has failed to improve its productivity despite the many productivity-improvement tools it now uses. (More on this later.) 

• Pattern Recognition. Machine learning algorithms are adept at identifying patterns and trends within data, contributing to better predictions and problem-solving. LLMs and GPT recognize and generate human-like language patterns, while some neural networks perform non-textual pattern recognition tasks. 

• Precision. A.I. systems can perform tasks with greater precision and accuracy, reducing the margin of error when executing specific functions. For instance, A.I.-powered robotic systems can lay bricks, pour concrete, or perform other tasks with a level of accuracy that may be challenging for human workers alone. 

• Personalization. A.I. enables more efficient personalized experiences in various business areas, such as marketing and business development campaigns, customer relationship management (CRM) programs, content curation and design preferences. This also extends to features like smart homes to create personalized and adaptive environments. A.I.-infused systems can learn user preferences for lighting, temperature, and other factors to provide a customized living experience. 

• Learning and Adaptation. Machine learning algorithms can learn from new data, adapting to changing circumstances and improving their performance over time. A.I. tools can learn from user feedback and design iterations, enabling architects and engineers to refine and optimize their designs based on real-world usage and performance data. 

A.I.’S WEAKNESSES 

 Lack of Understanding and Common Sense. A.I. systems lack a deep understanding of context and may struggle with tasks that require commonsense reasoning or a broader understanding of the world. This is why A.I.-generated content is usually easy to identify, and also why human involvement and curation of A.I. content is critical. 

 Propensity for Mistakes. The performance of A.I. systems depends heavily on the quality and representativeness of the data it accesses to train itself. Biased or incomplete data can lead to inaccurate results. Like most human “know-it-alls,” generative A.I. is “often wrong, but never in doubt.” 

• Limited Creativity and Intuition. A.I. struggles with tasks that involve true creativity, intuition, and an understanding of abstract concepts. This is one reason why direct-to-customer A.I. content is a recipe for disaster, especially in creative professions like architecture and engineering. 

• Bias and Fairness Issues. A.I. algorithms will often mimic the biases that it encounters in training data, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes. Ensuring fairness in A.I. systems is a significant challenge. 

• Ethical Concerns. A.I. raises ethical questions, especially in areas like privacy, accountability, originality and authenticity. People need to be careful using A.I. in sensitive applications. 

• Intellectual Property Uncertainty. This involves at least two separate matters: 1) who owns Gen A.I.’s output; and 2) which and how much information should you share with it. 

• Zero Emotional Intelligence. The current state of A.I. lacks emotional intelligence and cannot understand or respond to human emotions. Though the day may come where this is not the case, at its core, A.I. functions as a machine like any other machine. 

• Lack of Regulation and Constraint. When ChatGPT exploded on the scene, the use of generative A.I. products rapidly spread throughout industries and companies, often with little or no oversight. Smart leaders and companies have reined in the use of A.I. with policies and best practices, but there are still – and will continue to be – rogue and dangerous use of A.I. programs, especially as technology keeps marching fast forward. Deepfake images meant to mislead, misinform or embarrass someone are an example. 

• Security Risks. Similarly, there is so much unknown about what A.I. does and can do. A.I. systems may be vulnerable to adversarial attacks. For example, malicious actors could manipulate or input deceptive data, leading to incorrect and potentially dangerous outputs. 

• High Resource Requirements. Some A.I. models, especially deep learning models, require substantial computational power and energy resources, posing environmental, financial and social concerns. 

Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of A.I. is essential for responsible development, deployment, and use of A.I. technologies. Addressing ethical considerations, bias mitigation, and ensuring transparency are other critical steps in maximizing the positive impact of A.I. while minimizing potential drawbacks.

This excerpt is taken from PSMJ’s A.I. Meets AEC: How to Harness Artificial Intelligence to Supercharge Your Firm.

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A.I. Meets AEC:
How to Harness Artificial Intelligence to Supercharge Your Firm

Unlock the transformative power of artificial intelligence for your AEC firm with this must-read executive's guide!

In this groundbreaking 2024 book, industry experts reveal how to harness artificial intelligence to supercharge your projects, streamline operations, and gain a competitive edge.

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