Can Technology and AI Ever Replace Architects?

Architects and AI Technology

AI is becoming more common in our world today, and the abilities of AI are increasing. AI and other technologies are starting to replace some jobs that had to be done by humans in the past, but this does not mean AI will replace every job. So, can technology and AI ever replace architects?

Technology and AI is unlikely to ever replace architects because so much of what architects do involves creative analytical thinking that can’t be replicated by technology. Additionally, their role in the field relies on collaboration with other workers in the design and construction industry. AI architects lack many essential soft skills of human architects, which are vital to the architecture industry.

First, this article highlights a study on how likely it is that AI will replace jobs like those of architects. Then, we explain why technology and AI cannot replace architects. Finally, we highlight how technology and AI can help architects without decreasing the number of jobs available to architects.

A Study on Architects and AI Replacement

Two researchers from Oxford University, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne studied how new technology could affect the availability of jobs.

They took more than seven hundred jobs and rated each one based on how likely a job is to be taken over by technology or AI. They used a scale from zero to one, with one, meaning one hundred percent, being the most likely that a job gets computerized.

According to their study, architects have a very low chance of having technology and AI replace their jobs, with only a 1.8 percent chance. Of the more than seven hundred jobs in the study, architects ranked at number eighty-two, so they have a slight chance of being taken over by technology.

Architectural managers had an even lower chance of replacing their jobs with technology, with only a 1.7 percent chance. So, the more experience someone has in the architecture field, and the more specialized the work is, the more difficult it will be to replace the job with technology.

And, when AI does begin replacing jobs, AI engineers will start with easier jobs like customer service, data entry, and analytics, and architecture jobs will continue to be performed by humans.

Although there is still a chance of this happening, it would likely not happen anytime soon, and it would take the engineers a long time to develop and test AI architects.

Why Technology and AI Cannot Replace Architects

There are many reasons that architects cannot be replaced by technology and AI, including the fact that more than just architects in the industry would need to be replaced for designing and building to work with AI.

Many architects’ jobs cannot be replaced by technology. Finally, architects do more than just use computer systems for their work, which would make using AI difficult.

AI Would Need to Work in Other Fields First

AI would need to be implemented in many other fields architects work with before AI could take over architecture jobs.

Architects work with many other people within many other industries to do their job. Some of these different jobs include engineers and construction managers. If people are doing these jobs, there would be little use to having the architecture jobs done by AI.

These human workers would need to learn AI to work with the AI architect to understand the design, or they would also need to be converted to AI. Then, the AI systems could work together to automate the entire process.

Suppose AI was only taking the architect jobs and not the other jobs in the industry. In that case, problems could arise when the human workers have questions or something is off with the AI’s design, and they have a difficult time trying to fix it with the technology.

It would also decrease the productivity of human workers since they have to learn how to work with AI. And it would take time away from them when the issues do arise.

If all the jobs in the construction and design industry, including architects, were to be taken over by AI, it would make the jobs and processes significantly faster. But, this speed would only happen once the technology is all set up. It would take a significant amount of time to prepare and test AI to be ready to control the entire industry.

The human workers would still have to do all the jobs during the creation phase, and they would have to help with the testing process to make sure the AI is working properly. And, once AI is set up, someone would still have to help run and monitor it.

AI Is Not Possible in Other Fields Architects Currently Work

As discussed in the section above, architects work with people in many other fields that would also need to implement AI for architect jobs to be taken over by AI. But, there are also some people that architects work with whose jobs cannot be taken over by AI.

  • There are the people who do the actual labor on a job site to construct what an architect has designed. Even if AI did the architectural design, the work would still have to be done by people, and these people would have to understand how the AI worked to complete the design. And, what if the laborers had questions but no one to ask?
  • Some drivers bring all the construction materials to the job sites. While sometimes these are the same construction workers who work on the jobs, these can also be other people hired to drive trucks with the goods and materials from the factories and warehouses to the jobs sites. AI cannot replace these drivers, who also need to account for their supply.
  • Self-driving cars are slowly increasing on the roads, but that does not mean there will be self-driving trucks that can transport construction materials to job sites. And, who will unload all the materials and ensure they get taken to the proper areas on the job site?

These jobs may not initially seem like they would have much to do with architectural technology. Still, everything needs to align to design and construct a building or other structures successfully. Without every single job being on the same page, even when it comes to AI and technology, the projects will not be efficient, and there will be issues that arise.

Architects Do More Than Use Technology

Another reason that AI cannot replace architects is that they are not solely jobs that get done with technology. While architects do a lot of their work on computers, they also have fieldwork and collaboration that needs to be done in person and with others.

First, architecture is not a job that anyone can do solely on a computer like many jobs replaced by AI. Architects use computers to do their designs, but they also need to go out into the field and gather information to help them with the designs.

Architects can liaise with their clients to interpret their particular vision and ask any follow-up questions they need. Architects can anticipate and adapt their plans more flexibly than current AI technology can replicate.

But, if AI had to do the architectural work and design on a project, the client who needs the building done would have to figure out how to give the information to an AI system.

Second, architects collaborate and work together to do their designs, especially big ones. While a single architect or AI system could easily design something small, it takes many architects working together on large structures like skyscrapers or projects with multiple elements or buildings that all need to flow together, like on campus.

While AI would have the capacity to do large projects, it would take a long time to teach them all a giant skyscraper’s rules and safety elements. They would also take a lot of time to learn how to do a multi-structure project where all the buildings need to match or have common elements.

How Technology and AI Help Architects

Just because technology and AI will not be replacing architecture, it does not mean architects cannot use AI to make their jobs easier. Many bigger architecture firms are starting to dedicate time and money to learn how to use and implement AI systems in their work.

  • AI Increases the speed at which architects can work. Some architects, especially those that embrace older technologies and practices, may be hesitant to use AI. However, AI and other technology can help do some of the more mundane tasks architects do.
  • AI provides a variety of models based on different specifications. With AI, the technology can make a lot of initial models for architects. Then the architects can spend their time choosing which one or two they like and then adjusting them from there.
  • AI can enhance work performance without overshadowing the architect’s role. AI is an ever-changing technology, and it can be hard to learn, but if architects can take the learning process one step at a time, they will slowly realize how much AI can assist them without overshadowing their job or work.
  • With AI, architects have more time to focus on their projects. Once freed from repetitive tasks, architects play around with different designs that they would not have time to do without AI. While the AI creates basic models or even scans blueprints for issues or irregularities, architects can work on more challenging tasks or get ahead on other projects.
  • Architects can spend more time with their clients’ building relationships. While AI frees up more mundane tasks, architects can focus on exchanging ideas instead of creating designs that AI can do instead. Building relationships with clients is essential for architecture firms, and it is something AI cannot do because it can lead to more work in the future.

Are Architect Jobs Decreasing Because of AI and Technology?

Architect jobs are not decreasing because of AI and technology as yet, even while AI systems are becoming more widespread. Soft skills are vital in architecture, ensuring the need for human interactions. However, architects should embrace AI technology so as not to be left behind the times.

Even as technology continues to improve and architects continue to use technology within their field of work, architect jobs are still on the rise.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that architect jobs will increase by three percent between 2020 and 2030. A three percent increase is equivalent to three thousand and nine hundred jobs.

So, even with the increasing technology and AI being implemented within the field, architect jobs are not decreasing. More architects are needed in the next decade, and technology is not affecting growth within the field.

Furthermore, as AI does improve to help architects, the engineers will need more architects to help create and test the AI technology. The AI engineers will need to enlist architects and architecture firms willing to use AI and provide feedback on how it helps their work and how they could improve it.

Engineers will have to continue to tweak the AI software for architects over a long period before it will work well enough to become common in the industry, so architects will continue to be needed to help with the technology.

This YouTube video from Balkan Architect explains why, while AI can never wholly replace architects, it can provide some technologies that will help architects work more efficiently:

Final Thoughts

It is doubtful that technology and AI will ever replace architects in the foreseeable future. It would take a long time for AI engineers to create and test the technology that would be able to efficiently and safely replace architects.

Doing so would pose significant issues within the construction and design industry, not to mention the human interaction aspect, which is vital in the industry.

However, architects can embrace the technology and AI that exists today to help improve their quality and work and make some of the longer and more mundane tasks of their jobs easier.

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