Practical wisdom in an age of computerisation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

Abstract

All professions are facing some formidable challenges including the
‘big three’ – climate change, pandemics and increasing
computerisation. The potential threats include new uncertainties
about unexpected extreme events, widespread predictions of job
losses and the dangers of inappropriate unsafe automation. The
opportunities include new types of jobs and new understanding
of what civil engineers do, how they do it together with large
scale improvements in effectiveness. Meeting these challenges
requires us first to understand better and re-evaluate the
overview of the services we provide. Secondly, we need to get a
better handle on how we structure our problems to encompass
both the ‘big picture’ and the detail and to use that structuring to
develop workflow modelling tools that handle new sources of
uncertain evidence such as AI and the IoT. In this paper I argue
that we need to change the conversation about AI to one about
AAI or Assistive Artificial Intelligence whilst recognising that the
term AI will probably remain in general use. To do that we have
to understand and communicate what is special about
professional engineering expertise. We need a principle of
ingenuity that ‘value, nurture and develop practical wisdom’
because it contains the crucial necessary qualities of professional
engineering that cannot be computerised in the foreseeable future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-213
Number of pages16
JournalCivil Engineering and Environmental Systems
Volume37
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2020

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