Real Talk on AI’s Role in Construction: Overheard in the Big Room 

While there are plenty of tech and corporate buzzwords that don’t live up to the hype, we can honestly say that AI is not one of them. Artificial intelligence truly has the capacity to transform everything we do—from construction workflows to jobsite safety management. 

AI is more than a trend in construction It’s a significant paradigm shift that will transform our future.  

Still, we need to carefully consider AI’s use cases and implications in construction and ensure that we maximize its potential.  

Beyond that, we as an industry must work to implement AI ethically and responsibly to balance tech advancement with social responsibility and community impact. 

Read more: Constructing with Intelligence: How Autodesk AI Helps You Be More Efficient

AI-centric conversations in the Big Room 

So, what’s the best way forward when it comes to deploying artificial intelligence? We recently asked members of the Big Room to provide their insights and experiences.  

As one of the leading online communities for construction pros, the Big Room is an exciting hub for exchanging opinions and best practices. And with AI being such a hot topic, there’s no shortage of conversations and ideas.  

In this latest installment of the blog series Overheard in the Big Room, we shed light on some of the AI-centric discussions in the community. Take a look at what real construction professionals are saying about artificial intelligence below.  

And if you’d like to be part of these conversations, head to the Big Room and sign up. We’d love to have you! 

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Areas where AI will have the most significant impact 

There are plenty of AI use cases in construction; with firms grappling with issues like inefficiencies and labor constraints, AEC pros could see AI being applied in several areas.  

Here are the top ones.  

Catching mistakes early 

“I would love to see AI aiding the punch process and catching mistakes early on in jobs. We’ve had some issues with BIM modeling at my company used by a GC to catch errors, and in our experience, it hasn’t fully worked yet. Having instructions on what to look for and understanding common mistakes would make a world of difference.” – Kaitlyn Robinson, United Group of Companies, Construction + Development Assistant  

Streamlining document management 

“There is a huge amount of time and paperwork for issuing drawings, spec, and submittals, which need to be paperless.” – a construction quality manager

I believe AI will have the biggest impact on document control and providing information from documents like the Suggested Submittals tool does.” – Derek Wilfong, Lease Crutcher Lewis, Sr. VDC Coordinator 

Keeping teams aligned 

“More generally, AI could be instrumental in getting the right information to the right person at the right time. There is a lot of potential throughout the industry.” – a VDC director

Letting you “build it” before you build it 

“AI can be applied throughout the whole process, such as before breaking ground and seeing what to expect. During the build process, AI can be used to see the final product before it is completed.” – a training coordinator

Enhancing safety 

“AI’s biggest impact will be inspections and safety on-site. It can provide the optimum build sequences.” – Steven Bloomer, GHD, Regional BIM Lead – South Queensland 

Freeing up your time for creative and high-level work 

Being able to perform remedial or mundane tasks to allow users to focus on other tasks that require more of a human look or interaction.” – Dwane Lindsey, FGM Architects, Architectural Applications Director 

“Artificial intelligence allows for more time and space for creativity and collaboration.” – Laurie Yaneff, BIM Technician 

Deploying AI responsibly and ethically 

There are plenty of concerns surrounding AI—and for good reason. From privacy and job security to output quality and algorithmic bias, there needs to be a lot of thought and oversight around how the technology is deployed. 

The construction experts in the Big Room had plenty to say about this topic, and we noticed a common denominator: nearly everyone who weighed in emphasized the importance of humans in implementing AI.  

Work with the right people and firms 

Working with professionals to make sure quality information is going in—and with everyone’s permission—is imperative to mending trust with AI.” – Kaitlyn Robinson, United Group of Companies, Construction + Development Assistant 

“If you really want to dive into AI, do your research. Who or which corporation is writing the code, and what are they selling or trying to produce better than their competitors? There is a lot of mistrust in AI, so be sure to do your research.” – Nick Smilek, Moffatt & Nichol, Senior Structural CADD Designer & Revit Structural Designer 

“Use ethical people to create it! AI will NEVER replace ethical character or TRUTH. Garbage in = garbage out. Let’s not give AI responsibility that only a human can rightly govern.” – a VDC manager

“Have the right people in the right position and educate the teams and companies on a daily basis.” – Albin Pjanic, Qatar Rail, Senior BIM Manager 

Partnering with companies to help them with the AI deployment. That way, as trusted partners, all the trust issues and questions can be addressed during the implementation.” – Prateek Chitnis, Symetri, Strategic Implementation Manager 

Be thoughtful and strategic when implementing AI 

“There still needs to be human oversight when dealing with AI. Finding opportunities to use AI in low-risk, high-reward situations may be some of the first steps a business could take to develop a higher trust in the technology.” – Derek Wilfong, Lease Crutcher Lewis, Sr. VDC Coordinator 

The biggest part of adopting any AI into a workflow is allowing someone/something else to answer for you through the work performed, and you are still responsible. Be sure to evaluate the responses and actions as you would from any other member of the team.” – a BIM manager

Start high-quality data  

“Know the data source. Own the data source and have verifiable data. Preferrable internal vetted data.” – a design technology manager

“Be able to control data access.” – Chris Dahl, Gresham Smith, Sr. Design Technology Specialist 

“Being able to control the data that an AI tool can access. If you allow AI to look at uncontrolled data, you will get uncontrolled results. The data that AI utilizes also needs to be trusted and accurate. If people don’t trust the data AI is utilizing, then they will never trust the results.” – Dwane Lindsey, FGM Architects, Architectural Applications Director 

Strive to provide transparency 

“I think transparency of the model output is key. People using AI need to know how much they can rely on it. Perhaps something similar to LOD.” – a VDC director

Consider the need for legislation 

“Maybe they should have a live bylaw changing with every industry update.” – Sima Azargoon, Aecom, Intern Architect 

Louder, for those in the back: don’t forget the human aspect 

We would need to ensure that human intelligence still stays as a layer about AI while benefiting from the speed, creativity, and value that AI will continue to provide.” – a innovation director

“Reinforce its use as a tool used by people. Instead of a replacement for people. (The number of people needed for specific tasks will decrease, but new opportunities will emerge).” – Ryan Gorman, WJ Architects, BIM Manager 

Be part of the conversation 

The ideas and opinions above are just the tip of the iceberg. The Big Room is brimming with expert insights, real-world experiences, and forward-thinking strategies. 

More than just an online construction forum, the Big Room also allows you to grow your network, swap ideas, and even earn points that are redeemable for prizes. 

So, if your goal is to level up your construction knowledge, career, and business in 2024—the Big Room can help you get there.  

Join the community today

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.