Cleo Folkes

It would be hard to miss many of the changes taking place at home where technology help shapes the world. At work, in the property industry, it’s not as obvious…yet. But it will be.

You expect your bank to have automatic protection against card fraud in place. On-line retailing or ‘e-tailing’ has become normal to most adults below the age of 70. That is two ways how technology has crept into our lives. How about the ways to watch, stream or record TV, how to listen to music? In my home CDs and vinyl (it’s made a come-back!) get played rarely: music is mostly streamed now.

There are ready-made playlists to choose from. Suggestions of what else you might want to buy, watch or listen to jump at you left, right and centre. Virtual assistants with mostly female names and voices offer their assistance in what to cook, how to cook, what to order, best routes to take, to make a note in the diary et cetera. No one forces you to use them, but often you do as many times you find something good through them, right?

All the examples I talked about will have a form of A.I., short for Artificial Intelligence, behind them. A.I. simply said is software sitting on a server somewhere that automatically collects data, then analyses and filters it, endeavouring to select what it thinks is most suitable based on certain ‘algorithms’, for example your behaviour showing newsfeed preference. It’s not even a machine or a robot with a human-like face, as it’s often depicted. That’s just to make it more appealing.

But software is also learning to act and think like humans, to have a personality and to process language, be it speech or writing. Artificial neural networks create an artificial form of a thinking brain. Natural language processing, i.e. listening to another person or reading and understanding what they have written, seems easy to us. However, computers don’t understand this language, as it is designed for people. There are lots of colloquialisms, ambiguous or double meanings, people use incorrect grammar, and so on. Natural language processing or NLP helps computers make sense of human language.

For many users it’s easier and convenient to speak to computers. By being able to process human language computers can access a wealth of information, however. Think how much exists on the web these days. And the great thing is that computers can learn and improve. Machine learning doesn’t take place 9 to 5, machines do not get bored or want holidays and weekends the way humans do. They might start slowly, making many mistakes at the start, but it keeps going, improving all the time.

Virtual assistants and virtual reality can help occupiers find their desired property, software can learn the due diligence process, read leases and contracts, can connect disparate databases together and find trends, or help monitor plants within buildings and schedule maintenance works or adjustments. Robots can assist in factories where modular units are built for housing, helping relieve the lack of manpower in the construction industry. Automated Valuation Models will become more common as it improves. The use of office, retail and logistical space can be optimised by the right intelligent software. A.I. will be used by renters, buyers, sellers, investors, property managers and service suppliers in ways we yet cannot fully contemplate.

Yes, it will replace some jobs, but it will create other, better jobs, and help the economy grow. Let the computers do the boring work and let us get on with the exciting work in the property industry!

This blog was first posted through FUTURE: Proptech on 19th February 2018

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