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ACEC hosted today the first in what will be a four-part webinar series on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its potential implications for the AEC industry. Today’s session, “An Intro to AI in the AEC Industry,” featured JAM Idea Agency’s Kristin Kautz sharing an overview of what AI is (and isn’t), how it works, and why it matters.

Kautz opened the session by assuring the more than 100 live webinar attendees that her presentation was “human generated,” which she then noted will likely become a routine disclaimer as AI improves and grows. To demonstrate that constant evolution, Kautz also said her presentation was 27 hours old – and that in the one day and three hours since she developed the presentation, AI had changed. “At some point,” she said, “you have to stop updating.”

That drove home the exponential growth of AI, which Kautz called “a marathon you can’t sit out,” and one that has no finish line. She went on to say that AI will create a seismic shift in our workplace and our industry, noting that the technology will enable businesses to automate tasks, freeing up time and resources to focus on what technology can’t accomplish. “I want AI to help humans get to really good stuff,” said Kautz.

Kautz cited a McKinsey study that determined AI and other technologies have the potential to automate activities that today absorb 60 to 70 percent of workers’ time. The same study also found that AI could add the equivalent of $2.6 to $4.4 trillion annually to the global economy.

Ironically, despite fears that AI will “replace humans,” Kautz contends that AI actually has the potential to up the “happiness quotient” in workplaces. She cited as one example AI’s ability to both streamline and speed up the onboarding process. By making new employees feel more connected to an organization, and doing so more quickly, employers can reduce attrition and increase engagement. With studies showing that suboptimal onboarding can leave new hires uncertain about their new roles, and as our industry continues to contend with workforce shortages, orienting new employees is one immediate benefit AI could bring to firms.

But beyond that, the sky is the limit. “Think about what you hate to do every day [in your work],” said Kautz, happily noting as an example an AI program that can eliminate the need to attend meetings. “Think about what you like. What problems need solving? Start with that.” This is technology that is here to stay – and is only going to get bigger, better, and more effective. “AI is not perfect,” Kautz said. “But I promise you; it’s going to get there.”

To view today’s seminar on demand, click here. To register for future sessions, including next month’s “Content Development & Application Integration” seminar scheduled for September 14, click here.


August 3, 2023



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