AI: fear the apocalypse or embrace the revolution?

AI - threat or friend - abstract image for Hays story
Image: Wangbar/

While senior technology developers and gurus are calling for greater regulation of AI, citing the worst-case scenarios, a new survey suggests the built environment is on the brink of embracing the technology – within limits.

Nearly half (47%) of 950-plus respondents in the construction and property sectors think AI should be embraced in the workplace. A similar percentage (42%) are not sure what to make of the technology, while the remaining 11% think it should be feared. The survey was conducted in April and May for recruitment specialist Hays.

Less than a fifth of the respondents are using AI tools such as ChatGPT. This is despite the benefits they believe AI can offer, such as cost savings (41%), improved productivity (28%) and consistency (24%).

There are clear concerns about the use of AI: just 15% of construction and property firms say they will allow staff to use AI tools unmonitored, while nearly two-thirds (59%) say they will let staff use AI tools, but will monitor the usage.

A very small minority (4%) say they have already banned AI tools, while nearly a quarter (22%) anticipate they will ban AI tools. This could relate to concerns around copyright and intellectual property in designs where generative AI has been used to help create the designs.

Time to upskill

Gaelle Blake, director at Hays, specialising in construction and property, said: “It’s clear from our research that the sentiment towards using AI within the workplace is largely positive across the industry. However, the uptake and usage remains low while employers get to grips with how AI could benefit their daily operations.

“AI tools and technologies have the potential to improve efficiency and accuracy across the industry, yet what’s concerning is that nearly half of employers told us they don’t have the right skills within their workforce to make the best use of AI and technology.

“While not all roles within construction will be able to use AI tools, it’s a huge opportunity for professionals to upskill and get to know how AI could affect their profession, and how they can use AI tools to advance their careers.”

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