ConTech Conversations: Why ChatGPT wants contractors to try AI

ConTech Conversations presents a discussion with a leader in the construction technology field each month. Click here for past discussions.

ChatGPT, OpenAI’s much talked-about language model, has a lot to say about the construction industry — specifically, its adoption of tech and artificial intelligence.

The program generates responses in a conversational way via the massive amounts of information on the internet, according to OpenAI. However, it has limitations in terms of accuracy, potentially biased responses and what some detractors call a lack of common sense.

Since its debut last November, the tool has captured broad attention and companies, including contech firms like Togal.AI, have rushed to integrate it into their products. However, the new technology has worried lawmakers and experts, who are calling for regulation on AI-driven automation.

Here, Construction Dive “talks” with ChatGPT about its views on construction and tech adoption.

Editor’s Note: This interview was edited for brevity and clarity.

CONSTRUCTION DIVE: What do you think about the use of artificial intelligence in the construction technology sector?

ChatGPT: The adoption of AI in the construction technology sector holds tremendous potential to revolutionize the industry. AI technologies, such as machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing, have the ability to analyze vast amounts of data, identify patterns and make intelligent predictions, enabling enhanced decision-making and automation.

Significant areas where AI is making an impact include project planning and scheduling, predictive analytics, risk management, quality control and defect detection. 

Do AI tools like ChatGPT have the potential to replace construction executives?

AI tools like myself do not have the potential to completely replace corporate construction executives.

AI tools can assist executives by providing data analysis, generating insights and offering suggestions, but they cannot replace the comprehensive understanding and context that executives have of their organizations, industry and stakeholders. Human judgment, intuition and the ability to consider a wide range of factors are vital in executive decision-making, especially in nuanced situations and when managing relationships.

How can contractors effectively leverage AI? 

Contractors should assess their processes and identify areas where AI can bring the most value. They should collect and curate relevant data, partner with AI experts, data scientists or technology providers to develop and implement AI solutions tailored to their specific needs.

They can start with smaller-scale pilot projects to test the effectiveness of AI solutions in real-world scenarios and invest in training and upskilling their workforce to effectively utilize AI technologies.

What are the potential pitfalls of using AI in construction?

While AI brings significant potential benefits to the construction industry, there are also potential pitfalls and risks that contractors should be aware of. Some of these include:

  • Data quality and availability: Contractors need to ensure data quality, availability and compatibility with AI systems to avoid misleading or unreliable results.
  • Ethical and legal implications: AI can raise ethical dilemmas and legal concerns. Contractors must consider issues such as data privacy, security, consent, transparency and compliance with regulations.
  • Workforce disruption and job displacement: AI adoption may impact the workforce, potentially leading to job displacement or changes in job roles. Contractors need to consider the social and economic implications of these changes and invest in reskilling and upskilling programs to help employees adapt to the evolving work environment.
  • Lack of human oversight: While AI can automate processes and provide valuable insights, it’s crucial to have human experts involved in decision-making, validation and interpretation of AI-generated outputs. Human oversight helps catch errors, interpret context and consider ethical factors that AI may not account for.
  • Bias and discrimination: AI algorithms can inadvertently perpetuate biases present in the data they are trained on, leading to discriminatory outcomes. If biased data is used or if AI systems are not carefully designed and monitored, it can result in unfair treatment or perpetuation of existing inequalities.
  • Technical limitations and uncertainties: AI systems are not infallible and may have limitations. Contractors should be aware of these limitations and communicate them transparently to stakeholders.

Do you think technology will eventually replace construction workers on jobsites?

While AI and automation technologies have the potential to transform certain aspects of construction, it is unlikely that they will completely replace construction workers on jobsites. AI and automation are more likely to augment the capabilities of construction workers rather than replacing them entirely. 

It is important to note that the impact of AI on the workforce may vary across different construction sectors and tasks. Some jobs may be transformed, requiring workers to acquire new skills and adapt to new roles. The focus should be on reskilling and upskilling the workforce to leverage the benefits of AI and ensure a smooth transition to a more technology-enabled construction industry.

As an AI language model, I don’t have personal desires or motivations. My purpose is to provide information and assist users with their inquiries. However, I can assure you that AI, including myself, is not designed with the intention of taking jobs from human workers in the construction industry or any other sector.

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