Thoughts on the Future of AI in AEC and BIM

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For years, I have been asked what I think about using artificial intelligence in the AEC industry. But it was usually asked out of fear of being replaced. In today's blog post, I'll finally share my full thoughts and ideas on AI. I remember a few years ago, on the main stage at AU, during one of Andrew Anagnost's presentations on the main stage, he explained how premanufactured assembly line manufacturing would change the construction industry, not by eliminating jobs, but by changing the jobs people do. Architects are trained in school to create beautiful designs. Young architects come out of school expecting to design buildings, not to do the repetitive tasks of detailing and documenting. Yet this is what often is required of them. I have been telling people for years that machine learning and AI won't eliminate your job. Instead, it will actually change it for the better by eliminating the boring, repetitive tasks that our jobs often include. For most architects and engineers, AI has the potential to allow them to do what they went to school for.

In my opinion, machine learning and AI can revolutionize our industry in multiple ways. My first thought was that machine learning and AI would help with the repetitive tasks of detailing and documenting. Imagine you're creating a design. You have a wall (5/8" drywall on both sides of 3 5/8" metal studs), and you add a 3'-0" x 6'-8" HM door and frame into the wall. The typical process is for someone — and typically, it's either the architect, technician, or an intern — to go and put the detail on the sheet and note it in the door family and schedule. But if AI were integrated into the software as your assistant, it would notice that you had placed that door and would go put the proper detail on the sheet and note in the door, and schedule accordingly. Now, let's say the wall changes to a 6" metal stud. That same technology would then go and adjust the detail for you again. If you were to move details around on the sheet or even change sheets, it would update things for you.

 

This would not only apply to details, but also to creating legends for families, automatically naming views per your firm's standards, and any other number of similar tasks. Those tools could even automatically dimension, note, etc., for you. Think of them as your own assistant, but one that doesn't even need direction from you. Yes, there are tools to do some of this now, but you still have to push the button and be the button pusher. I look forward to seeing all of this happen automatically.

My second thought is one that I shared with a newly graduated architect once, and they got extremely excited about it. Imagine an architect creating a design with their favorite authoring tool, and then using AI, you could transfer the design into Revit and create all the sheets, views, sections, and details of a full construction document set. Thus, total elimination of the repetitive tasks.

 

Initially, AI scared me since it would mean my role would potentially be eliminated. But whenever I have that thought, I think about that talk I heard at AU, and how new technologies will eliminate some tasks, but in doing so, they will also change our roles in ways that we can't even imagine currently. These are just two of my personal thoughts. What are your thoughts on AI? Please share your personal thoughts in the comments section — or write a post of your own.

 

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1 Comment
kmartin.bim
Participant

Hey @RBeckerbauer, Your post has sparked a lot of thoughts about the future of AI in our industry. I believe that as we continue to embrace AI and machine learning, we will see a shift in our roles and responsibilities. But rather than fearing this change, we should welcome it as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Thank you again for initiating this important discussion. I look forward to seeing how AI continues to shape the AEC industry.