Intelligent Machines and the Future of Work

NASA Tests New Robotic Refueling Technologies. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Gunn.

By Dale Dekker, AIA, AICP

"Intelligent Machines and the Future of Work: How Will Artificial Intelligence and Robots Impact Commercial Real Estate?" was published in NAIOP Development Magazine. 

How will artificial intelligence and robots impact commercial real estate? The future is coming sooner than you think. Climate change, extreme weather, rising seas, drones, driverless cars and trucks, 3D printing, global unrest, space junk, terrorism, drought, fracking, and now, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots all will have big impacts on commercial real estate (CRE) in years to come.

Various studies have predicted changes in the workforce and job displacement with the introduction of advanced robots and AI. One can only begin to speculate about the future impacts on CRE. Robots can work 24/7, 365 days a year. Will this drive demand for more space, or less? How will these changes impact the ways people design, build, and rebuild cities and workplaces?

The CRE industry must seriously consider the implications of intelligent machines, because the speed of technological change flies in the face of an industry ecosystem designed to build and finance fixed single-purpose assets with a structural lifespan of 50 years but a functional lifespan of only five to 10. Where does one begin?

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