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AI’s Impact on FM

Blake Standen’s primer course at ConnexFM2023 breaks down the basics and common misconceptions of artificial intelligence.

By Rebecca Lubecki

Technology continues to play a significant role at ConnexFM events, and artificial intelligence (AI) is no exception. While we tend to associate the term with computers, the internet, video games and other tech-heavy items, AI is implemented in many other forms and is virtually transforming every industry, including multi-site facilities management.

Blake Standen, BrainBox AI
Blake Standen, BrainBox AI

Connexus touched base with Blake Standen, Global Senior Manager, Technical Sales Engineering at BrainBox AI, to give ConnexFM2023 National Conference attendees a preview of what to expect before his educational session in Dallas this April.

Standen’s session will introduce attendees to the building blocks of AI, basic concepts of neural networks, deep learning and machine learning. He will also discuss real-world examples of AI, such as self-driving cars, intuitive devices and autonomous buildings, to help attendees understand what is real and what is science fiction.

[Connexus] Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect to learn from your education session on AI?

[Blake Standen] My goal is to demystify the term “artificial intelligence” and build on the existing knowledge of the AI world. AI is used in many different industries, but only recently has it been used in the built environment. I intend to give attendees an enhanced understanding of AI so they can differentiate between types and use cases.

In your opinion, how much does the layperson know about AI? Why is it important for them to understand AI?

[Standen] As I see it, AI exists in two extremes. Often when people hear the term AI, they associate it as a buzzword and don’t think much of it. Or they overthink and envision a scenario where evil robots take over the world.

I believe understanding the different types of AI technologies will be important when evaluating different functions and communicating values that AI can or (in certain cases) is already providing.

Can you explain some essential terms people should know to better understand AI technology?

[Standen] Our AI team lead once told me that AI is “just beautiful math.” That stuck with me. It’s important to view the concepts of AI and the math behind it in a simple way. For example, what are the differences between machine learning, neural networks and deep learning? All are types of AI algorithms, but what makes them different? AI can be as simple as a linear regression model or as complex as a neural network.

To provide an example, what is the difference between supervised learning and unsupervised learning? Supervised learning is defined as using labeled data sets to train or “supervise” the algorithm. It is the opposite of unsupervised learning, which discovers hidden patterns in unlabeled data sets.

What are some of the more prevalent examples of AI that we see in our everyday lives? What applications are more apt to the multi-site facilities management industry?

[Standen] AI is all around us, and we take it for granted. For example, Microsoft uses AI to predict what you are typing to speed up the typing process.

Other examples include image recognition technologies in cell phones and cameras, as well as self-driving cars and language translation. AI’s impact is just beginning in the built environment and building automation. The reason it has taken so long to make its way to the built environment is the lack of standardization of data sources in buildings, as well as building systems being built and installed at different time periods with different standards.

What does the future hold for AI in the facilities management realm? Where do you see the technology impacting facilities management the most moving forward?

[Standen] I see AI helping make facilities management teams more efficient in their daily lives. These teams are asked to do more with less each year. Keeping up with the high demand of tenants and emissions goals, and ongoing maintenance of aging buildings, FMs need to utilize technologies to do more for them. AI’s primary goal is to make humans’ lives easier.

One big new item coming from the world of AI is ChatGPT, which is a language model for dialogue that can answer complex questions, write code and create content.

Why should conference attendees mark your session as a “can’t miss?”

[Standen] I think people have heard the word AI a lot over the last few years and are interested in demystifying the term and learning more about its actual implications in the built environment.

To learn more about AI and how its rapid progression can change your industry, catch Blake Standen’s education session at the ConnexFM2023 National Conference in Dallas. This session will discuss the four types of AI; the difference between AI, machine learning and deep learning; how they work together; and how AI is currently used in different facets of building operations.

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