By Conor Meyers

I’ve read a number of interesting articles on the subject of technology and its application to the construction industry and our lives in general. Included in these articles was a very interesting topic on artificial intelligence. It discussed the observation that by 2025, artificial intelligence will be so advanced that when we telephone, for example a call center, we’ll be connected to a computer program, not human. It predicts that computer programs will be so intuitive that it will act just like human and we will not even know we aren’t talking to a human. When we speak to each other we use our intuition to recognize where the conversation is leading. These programs will have the same intuitions and begin conversing before the person is even done speaking as it will be able to recognize the flow of the conversation. Reminds me of of Arnold Schwarzenegger in The Terminator.

I also read several interesting articles on the use of robots in the construction of buildings and other structures. The premise that robots will begin replacing construction workers and we will develop machines which are capable of constructing with limited human involvement.

When combining advances in artificial intelligence and robotics, the idea that robots will be the builders of the future is not unfathomable. Many procedures performed in the construction industry require intuition and thought. Once computers are able to implement intuition it is likely that the industry will develop better technology enabling construction to be performed mainly by machines. This arguably will remove the element of human error, but will it lead to an end of defective construction? I surmise not, but it will certainly change what we as attorneys, insurance people and construction consultants do.

On a similar note, our design firm, Axis Building Envelope Design, proposed to a client the installation of sensors during reconstruction of decks and walkways at their complex. The suggestion’s purpose was to determine in post-construction if there was any water intrusion. Ultimately, the client declined. Although, sensor installation is readily available to identify leaks, it still seems the exception and not the norm.

The purpose behind sensor installation is obvious. Construction is not perfect. Human error, both in construction and design, can and do occur. Hopefully not intentional, but rather simple human mistake. By installing sensors we are able to determine water intrusion and its path, identifying its source and the scope of the repair, and the extent of the damage, all without having to de-construct. Further, sensors allow for early identification of leaks leading to less water damage in concealed spaces. By the way, sensors can and are used in building construction in many other ways other than for water intrusion identification.

From a legal and claims standpoint, it also provides the means to develop more precise costs of repair and allocation determination. With sensors identifying actual leaks, we are able to determine exact numbers of locations affected and the parties involved. Hence better and more accurate costs of repairs and contractor/subcontractor/designer involvement.

I recognize that sensors, and for that matter other construction technology advances, are not a panacea. And this is certainly not meant as an exhaustive discussion on the subject. Other issues related to the use of this advancing technology can arise and we will explore those in later blogs.

To learn more about how sensors are incorporated in design and construction or to speak with one of our knowledgeable consultants, please contact me at call (510) 304-7434 or visit

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