‘Treat AI as your colleague’ says CIOB report

Workers in construction should treat artificial intelligence (AI) as a “new colleague”, according to guidance published by the Chartered Institute for Building (CIOB).

The CIOB Artificial Intelligence Playbook, produced by consultants and academics on its Digital and Innovation Advisory Panel, covers potential uses and threats, legal issues, the importance of quality data and how the technology can improve digital twins.

Panel chair David Philp wrote in the report that AI offers the opportunity to improve everyday working patterns.

He said: “Treat AI as your new colleague, your construction assistant, potentially removing the burden from often repetitive data tasks. Work out where it can provide complementary analytical skills, pattern recognition, consistency and increased processing speed.”

AI systems are trained on large quantities of data to identity patterns and make predictions. Although it has been in use for decades, AI gained renewed prominence in 2022 when tech company OpenAI released AI text and image generators ChatGPT and DALL.E 2 to the general public.

Construction businesses have been exploring the potential uses of AI to automate certain office-based tasks, although a Goldman Sachs report from March 2023 concluded that physical construction roles were the least likely to be changed by the technology. In March, the government announced it would aim to increase its use of AI in infrastructure project management.

The CIOB report highlights innovative uses of new technologies, including partly automated tender processing and an AI digital twin informing a heritage renovation project in Egypt.

Commenting on the report’s launch, Philp said: “Forms of AI are now prevalent in all walks of life and business, and the construction industry is in the age of AI, whether we recognise it or not.

“Understanding AI in the context of our sector is vitally important to help determine and shape how it might usher in new opportunities.”

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