Does AI kill standards?

Abstract image of human hand and robot hand touching, for AI standards story
Image: Pop Nukoonrat |

Does AI mean the end of standards? That was the question debated during a session at the recent Digital Construction Week. That event is like a nightmare version of your ideal festival line-up with all your favourite bands on different stages at the same time. Thus, while BIMplus was at another presentation, a correspondent filed this report of the debate.

Among the myriad PowerPoint-powered presentations, one session stood out. Convened by Henry Fenby-Taylor, a spirited debate took place between Catalyst CTO Vicki Reynolds (For) and BSI sector lead Dan Rossiter (Against) as to whether AI will ‘kill’ standards. In an almost pantomime-esque fashion, the pair highlighted, with great enthusiasm, many of the key concerns around the use of AI through the medium of debate. These concerns included:

  • the relationship between rigour and speed;
  • the quality of training data and the reliability of the output;
  • the sector’s appetite for rapidly changing good practice;
  • the need for more novel approaches to meet productivity, safety, and sustainability requirements; and
  • the importance of trust and accountability.

At the beginning of the session, when asked to vote ‘For’ or ‘Against’ the debate statement via a raised hand, the majority of the audience sided with Rossiter (Against); Reynolds (For) secured only a single vote. But following audience input as well as a set of strong closing statements, the outcome of the second vote was almost equal.

As such, Reynolds and Rossiter concluded that, in the context of convening good practice, there is an opportunity for AI to work alongside standards. Potentially transforming the process of standardisation as opposed to making the standards obsolete themselves.

The presentation itself was well received, and BIMplus understands that plans are underway for further debates to be held on other topics that look to disrupt the built environment.

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