Artificial intelligence (AI) is the newest technology trend sweeping the globe, promising vast changes in various fields, including the construction and glass industries. Despite those promises, Josh Levy, co-founder and CEO of Document Crunch, said that AI hasn’t fundamentally changed much of anything in construction. Levy spoke with a panel of industry experts during a webinar on whether AI would unlock productivity.

“The [typical construction] problems are still there,” said Levy. “…The technology is sweet, but it is not the solution.”

Though doubters remain, AI has found some footing in construction. AI can be incorporated into construction design platforms used by architects and engineers, which could include a library of materials based on their work that can be used to ensure that construction meets net-zero targets.

Jeff Sample, host of the ConTechCrew podcast, agreed. He said AI is a unique technology, but there’s so much noise. Several main issues center around data reliability. Sample said he spoke with several construction executives who said they view AI as just “one more thing” amid the various other technologies on the market.

“They’re trying to tackle another shiny thing, and their plates are full,” he said. “We’re already seeing the failures. I have friends who were AI positive, but they’re saying that AI is not what they thought it would be.”

Sample said that, overall, failures come when people think AI will solve their problems.

Kris Lengieza, Procore’s global technology evangelist, added that expectations for AI are far ahead of reality. The software doesn’t change problems; it changes how problems are attacked and how fast they can be solved.

Trent Miskelly, chief operating officer of Document Crunch, took a different tact. He explained that he is cautiously optimistic about how AI will alter construction.

“We’ve done a ton of experimentation, especially on the generative AI front, in the last year,” he said. “We’ve seen what works, and we’ve seen what doesn’t work. I’m optimistic to say we are moving out of a proof-of-concept phase and bringing solutions into production. It’s demonstrating real value.”

However, Miskelly added that most construction executives are “AI tourists.” They’re testing it out but are not willing to jump in yet. Still, he said that many companies believe they must develop a plan so they aren’t caught flatfooted.

AI has been helpful in some cases, especially when used to gather information. Sample said he talked to several construction officials who said that AI programs have been developed to gather vital information to smooth out convoluted processes, such as permitting and finding energy-efficient products and contractors who can install them.

Lengieza added that Procore surveyed construction companies and found officials spent 18% of their time looking up information on how to solve problems. AI has helped lower that time.

“One of the best applications that we have seen AI solve is finding information and summarizing it so we can speed up decision-making,” said Lengieza. “That is critically important. Even if we could reduce that 18% to 10%, those are significant gains.”

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