Artificial intelligence and other machine learning tech is all the rage in the modern world. The financial, transportation and telecom industries are feeling its influence the most, which should come as a little surprise due to their reputations for taking a risk vs. reward approach to new technologies. Businesses in these spaces are likely to jump on board new trends in technology the quickest, hoping to make their internal processes work more efficiently and get ahead of the competition.
The first question…
But what exactly is machine learning? In a nutshell, it is a trend that leans towards programming machines and software to think for themselves. As a company using Business Information Modelling (BIM), Jensen Consulting knows that the amount of data out there to be collated and analysed by AI software is enormous, and doing so would allow them to identify patterns and make predictions. This is where it finds a place in CAD for the construction industry, as machine learning could help us to predict the way a building will behave, enabling architects to make better-informed design decisions before construction even begins.
The easiest way to consider machine learning is to compare it to a human being. A newborn baby comes into the world not knowing how to talk, walk or even think. These processes are learnt through repetition, and as we repeat them our brains store them as common, trivial functions. Similarly, when a machine is learning it analyses patterns in the data it is presented with, using these patterns to inform its predictions regarding what will happen next.
Rinse and repeat
For example, we could put a thousand pictures of a slug into one of these computer programmes, then tell it each time the picture contains a slug and it will learn to identify slugs in a picture or objects that look like them. Taking this process into construction, if a programme observes thousands of times architects choose to use a certain type of door handle on the same type of external door, on the same type of building and in the same country, it will be able to use this knowledge to recommend that door handle to other architects who use the same software. BIM is the best way construction companies can start taking advantage of cloud-based software, and this is very helpful for machine learning because it increases the sources of the data it collects.
In addition to the use of machine learning and AI, there is a simultaneous increase in the usage of IoT devices and sensors. This allows for the measuring of energy consumption, heating and lighting. These systems were closed, to begin with, unable to communicate with one another, but now a number of new products are appearing on the market that has the capacity to share data. This means that as data is collected and stored, it can be applied to an existing algorithm. The machine can then assist us in predicting the habits of the building’s future occupants, and can also help make better judgements at the design stage.
On the construction horizon
The construction industry’s adoption of machine learning is still in its infancy, but BIM is becoming a driving force as it compels users to take advantage of digital technologies and processes. At Jensen Consulting, we provide Building Information Management solutions and are heavily invested in the technology, so we already have a vision of a future where machines will play a key part in making construction sites safer places. That can be nothing but a good thing.