From the new airport terminal to the self-storage boom, the city of New Orleans and its surroundings are seeing a continuous push for more construction to meet the needs of those in the area. Keeping up with the demand for construction services in NOLA is not always easy, which is why many companies are looking to new technologies to get the edge they need to beat out the competition. There are plenty of different trends indicating areas where technology is bringing improvements, including waste recycling optimization, robotics and 3D printing. But perhaps the most intriguing emerging technology currently is artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence or AI is just popping up on the radar for man construction firms, which are understandably cautious about embracing a solution that is so new—and yet to be fully proven as a reliable tool for improving business outcomes. Firms should keep their eyes on AI, though, because it could soon boost efficiencies in the industry. And the sky is the limit for what it could potentially accomplish in the future.
AI is already being used in a variety of areas in both the personal lives of everyday people and in a range of industries. There is some overlap in the way AI can be used by the individual and the commercial enterprise, but each market has specific uses that AI tends to cater to.
A few areas where AI has taken off include:
AI for Personal Use
In the personal sphere, AI can be found in voice assistants like those offered by Google, Apple and Amazon. The home cook asking Siri how many cups there are in a quart is taking advantage of AI whether they realize it or not. Image recognition is another area where Google is trying to make headway in the personal tech use of the average user. Users can show Google an image and perform a reverse image search to find similar images, including the websites where those images are located and pictures that are the same but different sizes. All of these tools are fairly new and simple compared to the AI that is dreamed up in movies, but they are laying a firm foundation for AI that can do much, much more.
AI for Commercial Use
Some of the earliest instances of AI were used in the commercial sector long before they hit the personal sector. The most well-known of these is autopilot technology. Autopilot has been assisting pilots and airlines for decades. It has grown more capable and complex as technology has improved, but it was useful from the beginning. Transportation continues to be an area where AI excels, including the mapping software—primarily Google Maps—used by a wide variety of commercial transportation industries to minimize travel times and improve route efficiency. Ridesharing apps also incorporate AI to allow them to connect riders and drivers in the most efficient manner possible and to keep track of all the data produced through the ridesharing transactional process.
Fraud prevention is another commercial area where AI has excelled. AI systems have been developed that track every transaction that occurs for a specific client, which for some commercial users can be tens of thousands—or more—of transactions on a daily basis. Neural networks are used to predict whether transactions are fraudulent so that banks, lenders, e-commerce sites and other users can limit the risk of fraud to them and their users.
Anyone with a construction or engineering company knows that making major changes to the way things are done is typically frowned upon. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is such a well-known saying because it applies to so many situations. Considering the amount of money that goes into construction and the safety concerns of those working construction and those using the finished product, it makes sense to move cautiously when adopting new technology. Of course, there is such a thing as moving too slowly, which is what construction companies in New Orleans and throughout the country need to be careful to avoid. If there is a technology that could make business significantly better than it was before, it is vital that companies adopt it before the competition moves out of reach.
One of the most compelling examples of AI for construction use thus far is ALICE. Developed by Alice Technologies, a startup originating at Stanford University, ALICE is an artificial intelligence assistant that begins with a construction plan created by a human scheduler. The human scheduler defines the early schedule and the size of the upcoming project and then ALICE takes over. The AI program uses what is provided by the human user to calculate a range of scenarios—millions of them—that might occur depending on different variables. It does work that would take decades for a human to tackle. The final results are then whittled down to around a dozen options that are the best available and creates 4D models, which are 3D models that are viewed within their execution deadlines.
The ALICE program was used in a pilot by a construction company while building and managed to save the company 84 days from the schedule it had originally come up with on its own. ALICE gave the builders 22 different building strategies, which allowed them to adapt to changing scenarios that are inevitable in the building process.
Construction companies cannot be expected to adopt AI without a demonstration of why the change would be beneficial. Fortunately, ALICE has managed to give such a demonstration, which should make companies more intrigued about what the future may hold for their businesses after adopting such tech. It may not be enough to make companies in NOLA or other areas immediately purchase the latest AI offerings, but it should be enough to make them sit up and take notice. AI could very well be the winning solution for companies facing greater demands in the future.
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