Disruptive Tech Property Industry Impact – Automation of Knowledge Work

20130527-081048.jpg The second in a series inspired by the McKinsey and Company 12 Disruptive Technology report, this post considers the impact of the Automation of Knowledge Work.

The first post considered mobile internet as a disruptor, the idea that as mobile internet speeds increase, the ‘place’ that we do work will dramatically change. The ability to be able to connect at similar speeds to a hard connection from anywhere will not only demand greatly flexibility in work environments but also alternative financial models for procuring ‘workplace’.

So, how could the Automation of Knowledge Work change our property industry?

Well, how about something close to my heart – design.

At the moment we have fairly fragmented design processes in the property industry. We have individualised our design disciplines to an extent that we have a multitude of consultants on one project. This has recently generated a new discipline called ESD (environmentally sustainable design) which fills the gaps left between architecture and engineering. Whether that gap was generated by fee levels or forgetting the skills we were taught at university is another debate but it has created a new form of consultant, further fragmenting design.

Now imagine if those holes or gaps could be filled by artificial intelligence – software that would automate the knowledge work.

The first step maybe software that could automate our energy and daylight analysis for problem solving. Optimising the built form, the facade and the air conditioning systems to find a balance between daylight, energy and construction costs. This could be done by automating the knowledge systems using evolutionary algorithms to find optimal sweet spots.

The final step maybe the complete automation of our design process – lets call is Automatic Architecture (AA).

It could be that in the future, maybe by 2025, that we can automate the collection of needs from future occupants, collate the demands from the local community, factor in the local council for aesthetics and the developer for managing the financial risk. Once the AA software has collected all the necessary data it produces a design that can either fit within the local architecture choosing the ‘sympathetic’ button or create a bold statement by selecting the ‘juxtaposition’ option.

Because the AA system has automatically collected data from all interested parties prior to creating the design the building doesn’t need planning permission and is constructed by the advanced robots that have minimised waste and maximised efficiency.

We have already started to see the beginnings of this with open source collaborative design and even with the latest thoughts on participatory planning. It wouldn’t be too much of a step to imagine an AA future!

I think I have just imagined a future without my job! Maybe I had better evolve my company as well, good job I’m a prepper.

How would your role need to evolve in an AA future?

1 Comments on “Disruptive Tech Property Industry Impact – Automation of Knowledge Work”

  1. Nice article Simon. A key hurdle to get over with automating the design process is quantifying human responses to both the design and the design process. For example’, its very difficult to quantify “current fashion trend” and “client happiness” as they are always changing dynamic variables however we would have thought the same of speech recognition in the 1950sand now you can talk to the phone in your pocket.

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