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AI will make industry ‘safer and greener’, says CIOB

AI CIOB
The construction industry is already in the age of AI (Image: Dreamstime.com)

Artificial intelligence is supporting construction’s need to build safer, more sustainably and with higher quality, according to David Philp, chief value officer at Cohesive and chair of CIOB’s innovation advisory panel.

Opening CIOB’s AI conference this month, he said: “Whether we recognise it or not, the construction industry is in the age of AI and it’s already prevalent in all walks of our life and business. The arrival of ChatGPT has caused an upsurge in interest in AI and its benefits and practical applications, both among CIOB members and across the industry.

“As a CIOB working group, we recognise that the needs of industry and wider society are no longer serviceable using traditional methods,” he said. “We need to change quickly and AI will increasingly become a catalyst for new ways of working and decision-making.”

The CIOB working group has highlighted that some of the best AI use cases are within asset management, where asset availability and resilience are critical. For example, CIOB members at Loughborough University have developed an AI tool to help mitigate the problems caused by RAAC.

A ‘white box approach’

A significant part of the CIOB AI report will focus on the legal and ethical approaches that need careful consideration, such as intellectual property and ownership.

Philp said: “We need to consider the AI black box problem – AI can do amazing things that humans can’t, but in many cases we have no idea how AI systems make their decisions. We need a ‘white box approach’ that offers transparency – understanding of the AI model decision-making, understanding of the reasoning behind each decision and provability behind decisions as key considerations.”

Eddie Tuttle, director of policy, external affairs and research at CIOB, added: “The construction sector by its nature is innovative and has often been at the forefront of technological advances and in adopting new ways of working.

“AI will play a key role in several sectors going forward, and leaders in the construction industry must act to understand how it can benefit the overall quality, safety, and productivity of construction. This particularly will apply to SMEs, given their demographic in the sector.

“Our recent AI conference and forthcoming guide will be just one part of a wider push to understand the impact of this technology and the importance of data in enabling this.”

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