AI technology tools, for example the language processing software ChatGPT, are destined to change how we learn, how we train, and how we work.

Take the construction industry which, like others, inevitably looks for ways to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness. AI has the potential to transform these areas at a rapidly accelerating pace.

Increasing automation – the use of machines, tech. and computing for manual tasks – promises improved accuracy, faster project delivery, and increased safety onsite. For example, drone footage can report onsite hazards in real time, or remote-control vehicles can carry out work in difficult to access areas.

Similarly, new systems such as Mapscape, (an interactive urban forestry software) can produce tree surveys, create fast and accurate workflows, provide digital maps, aerial imagery, speech to text input, and GPS tree mapping providing the data across multiple devices and accessible across the UK. For an arboriculturist, this can save significant amounts of time, money, and resources by automating previously manual processes. This sort of technology, if applied to planning, costing, and quantifying fencing jobs will change the way we work.

AI systems may integrate different types of data so that teams’ work rates can be monitored, schedules tweaked and redirected due to traffic hold ups or weather conditions. Being able to say, with accuracy, ‘this is the job, this is the location, this is the process, and these are the costs,’ will have a massive effect on planning and productivity.

However, a consequence of increased automation could be that ultimately, it reduces the need for manual labour and the physical input of real people. Unlike humans, automation doesn’t need downtime, it yields precise, consistent results and it can repeat manual tasks accurately and uniformly.

Technological progress, with all its opportunities and drawbacks, is inevitable and industry will need to adapt to technological changes brought by AI and automation.

So where does that leave people?

We think that as firms face this shift in skills together, finding qualified practitioners will become increasingly problematic. The initial impact of AI won’t be on the manual skills crucial to a business like ours. It may affect planning and logistics moving forward, but it still takes around 12 months to train a fully competent qualified fencer to our standards and AI can’t do that.

And we believe that people like to deal with other people. Tech might take over in the end, but we think there’s a long way to go before we’d swap dealing with real people for anything else, and we think our clients feel the same.