I am reading Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman.
IBM Watson is a cloud-based computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM's DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci. Although Watson was named after IBM's first CEO, industrialist Thomas J. Watson, when most people hear the name, they think of Alexander Graham Bell's assistant named Watson a la the first message by telephone "Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you." [page 86]
Friedman considers February 14, 2011, a turning point in history because IBM Watson defeated two human champions on the Jeopardy! game show. I remember seeing that episode of Jeopardy! on the day it aired. The Final Jeopardy! category was "U.S. Cities," and the answer was:
"Its largest airport was named for a World War II hero; its second largest, a World War II battle."
When IBM Watson answered, "What is Toronto?", most viewers thought, "Wow, how stupid is that computer? Toronto is in Canada, not the United States." What they did not realize is that there is a Toronto, Illinois, so although Watson's answer was incorrect, it was not unreasonable. The correct answer was "What is Chicago?" for its O'Hare and Midway airports.
- Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare was an American naval aviator of the United States Navy, who became the Navy's first flying ace when he single-handedly attacked a formation of 9 heavy bombers approaching his aircraft carrier. [Wikipedia]
- The Battle of Midway was a decisive naval battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II that occurred during June 4-7, 1942, 6 months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor. [answers.com]
In his book, Friedman provides more insight as to why Watson answered with Toronto:
"There are many reasons why Watson was confused by this question, including the grammatical structure, the presence of a city in Illinois named Toronto, and the Toronto Blue Jays playing baseball in the American League... But the mistake illuminated an important truth about how Watson works. The system does not answer our questions because it 'knows.' Rather, it is designed to evaluate and weigh information from multiple sources, and then offer suggestions for consideration. And it assigns a confidence level to each response. In the case of 'Final Jeopardy!,' Watson's confidence level was quite low: 14%, Watson's way of saying: 'Don't trust this answer.' In a sense, it knew what it didn't know." [page 101]
At Autodesk, we are applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to the industries we serve: Architecture, Engineering, and Construction; Product Design and Manufacturing; and Media and Entertainment. In construction, for example, we are developing BIM 360 Field. BIM 360 Field is our cloud-based solution that improves construction project delivery by supporting informed decision-making throughout the project lifecycle by connecting the people, data, and workflows.
Michael Moran is a co-founder of TELOS, a digital construction consultancy. Michael notes that data sources in construction are exploding. Mobile devices and apps like BIM 360 Field are capturing and storing thousands of photos on typical projects. Drones, scanners, wearables, and other construction management apps are adding to the mountain of data collected as by-products of their use. To bring structure to our interpretations of these growing data streams, machine learning solutions are being applied to sort, filter, and surface insights so that projects can find the information they're looking for and make better decisions.
At this point, artificial intelligence and machine learning are helping stakeholders make decisions. These technologies augment a person's capabilities. They are not a replacement for the person. Friedman's explanation of the computer not knowing the correct answers, but only the probabilities associated with various answers, underscores why people will always be a part of the construction industry. Machines are not here to take our jobs. They are here to help us.
Autodesk has always been an automation company. Today, more than ever, that means helping our customers automate their design and make processes. We help them embrace the future of making, where they can do more (e.g., quantity, functionality, performance, quality), with less (e.g., energy, raw materials, timeframes, waste of human potential), and realize the opportunity for better (e.g., innovation, user experience, efficiency, sustainability, return on investment). Leveraging artificial intelligence is one part of providing the opportunity for better.
Artificial Intelligence is alive in the lab.