We have now had several years to assess how technology will change construction. We’ve seen a technological onslaught with thousands of solutions being brought to market claiming to make the industry safer, more productive and less risky.

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SwissCognitive, AI, Artificial Intelligence, Bots, CDO, CIO, CI, Cognitive Computing, Deep Learning, IoT, Machine Learning, NLP, Robot, Virtual reality, learningLike any explosion of technology, the dust does eventually settle, and you begin to gain clarity around what is and isn’t working. Within the construction technology space, it really does seem like the puzzle pieces are starting to fall into place in terms of what solutions will deliver the greatest impacts and which will be left behind.

At Aon, we’ve been doing our best to keep up. In 2017 we established a Technology Assessment Panel to help our clients better understand which technologies appeared to have a strong chance of impacting the real risks facing their business. Nearly every week we would look at a new technology that claimed to impact risks in the design, construction and operations phase of a built asset’s life. Over time we started to see how these technologies could be categorized and how they were beginning to interact with each other to create some potentially profound improvements in construction risk management and productivity. After almost five years of running our assessment panel, there are clearly two categories of technology that appear to be separating themselves from the pack. Those technologies are Internet of Things devices (IoT) and machine learning/artificial intelligence technologies (ML/AI).

To understand why increasing the speed at which you can make better decisions represents a profound technological impact, it’s a good idea to take a brief look at the research on decision making. If you haven’t already, you should have a read of Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. Kahneman is a psychologist, economist and Nobel Prize winner who extensively studied the psychology of judgement and decision-making. The book represents an excellent summation of his and his collaborator Amos Tversky’s work in this area. Kahneman has basically uncovered that human beings do not appear to be the best decision makers because of a desire and/or animalistic need for rapid decisions. His findings indicate human beings have two systems for decision-making. System 1 is a human’s fast, intuitive and unconscious thought decision making, sometimes called “gut” decision-making. System 2 is slow and requires conscious effort. Humans seem to have an aversion to quantitatively analyzing all the data before making our decisions, as his research also indicates we strongly favour the use of System 1 decisions. […]

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