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Survey: AI will have positive impact, but won’t replace humans

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Fewer than 25% of built environment professionals believe that artificial intelligence (AI) will be able to replace human interactions, but more than three-quarters believe that it will have a positive impact on the infrastructure sector, according to research conducted by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE).

As many as 60% of those surveyed believe AI will increase productivity.

As part of a survey prior to the James Forrest Lecture by Andy Green, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) commissioner, representatives of the industry were asked their views on the development of infrastructure.  This revealed:

  • 78% of built environment professionals think AI will have a positive impact;
  • 63% believe it will improve productivity; but
  • Fewer than 25% believe it will improve human interactions such as dispute management, consenting and project approval.

A workshop following the lecture revealed that many in the sector fear that the technology is not widely understood. Many also believe that piloting would be required to demonstrate to everyone involved in the infrastructure sector what benefits AI could bring.

Tim Broyd, president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, said: “Our industry and much of society is only beginning to realise the transformative power of AI. Now is the time to assess and analyse how we can best take advantage of it, identifying both the challenges and opportunities.

“The research shows that the government, built environment professionals and the technology sector should work together to build the necessary leadership, governance framework and skills to fully exploit the potential of AI.”

Andy Green, National Infrastructure Commission commissioner, said: “Artificial Intelligence is an integral part of our lives – it’s only right that it should also help boost productivity and improve how we manage our infrastructure.

“Today’s survey findings reveal an industry ready to accept that challenge, and see how this new technology can make a real difference to the sector and to people’s lives.

“We at the National Infrastructure Commission are also exploring this key issue, and it will be incumbent on all of us to ensure these innovations are widely understood both among professionals and the general public.”

Image: Dreamstime

The research shows that the government, built environment professionals and the technology sector should work together to build the necessary leadership, governance framework and skills to fully exploit the potential of AI.– Tim Broyd, president, Institution of Civil Engineers