Minimizing AI Risks in the AEC Industry: Embracing Responsible Practices
As AI increases both capacity and productivity in the AEC industry, it has become a game-changer bringing both promise and challenges. Successful AI integration requires a holistic approach encompassing technology, processes, and people.
Technology: AEC companies should carefully select AI technologies that align with their ethical values and objectives. AI integration calls for new roles, such as AI managers, AI validators, and AI governance experts. Such change is similar to the shift from CAD to BIM, leading to new roles such as BIM manager or BIM coordinator. In an AEC company, AI managers should work alongside stakeholders to build a robust framework and infrastructure. Their mission? Ensuring that AI is used responsibly and ethically to minimize any potential legal concerns. An AI validator plays a critical role in testing AI systems to ensure accuracy, fairness, and reliability, which helps in detecting and mitigating biases, reducing the chances of unintended consequences. More details on building an AI team can be found in the book “Augment It.”
Process: For AI technologies to function seamlessly across multiple stakeholders in a design or construction company, it is essential to establish an AI governance framework that guides a company toward data consistency and prevents future chaos and conflicts. To build such an AI framework, all stakeholders at an AEC company must collaborate to craft solid AI protocols promoting company-wide ethical and responsible AI practices. The protocols, which must not only be transparent and accountable but also safeguard data privacy, will ensure clear decision-making, well-defined responsibilities, and secure data handling, all of which will foster a culture of trust and reliability within the company.
People: As AI technologies continue to advance, AEC companies must invest in educating and training their employees on AI risks and best practices. Employees interacting with AI systems should receive adequate training to understand potential hazards, ethical considerations, and safety protocols associated with the applications of AI. Such training will enable employees to make informed decisions and contribute to effective risk management.
By carefully considering technology, process, and people, AEC companies can optimize AI’s potential while minimizing risks. And by establishing new roles, unified regulations, and training, all of us in the AEC industry can embrace AI’s potential while minimizing its risks for a better future.