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Ian Smith: AI for Trustworthiness in the Built World

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Event Details:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the guest lecture of Ian Smith, Director of the Georg Nemetschek Institute, AI for the Built World, at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. It will take place on Tuesday May 7th, 10:30-11:30AM, in Y2E2 299. Ian will discuss the challenges of computing for engineers in the built world and the opportunities for using AI. He will particularly focus on how to incorporate trustworthiness in AI systems; engineers will not use software they do not trust.

Abstract: Activities such as creating and managing the built world present a unique set of difficult challenges for engineers who wish to enhance computer support. For example, there may be many design criteria, construction activities in changing environments, potential changes in use over service lives and high failure consequences. This creates a situation where many applications of AI in the built world have failed to reach performance goals. This talk begins with a presentation of some of the challenges that successful projects have to overcome. While initially, it would seem that such a combination of challenges is a precise recipe for deciding to avoid AI, there are many opportunities. Since civil engineers are legally responsible for their decisions and actions, they will not use software that they do not trust. The talk continues with an extension of computer-science criteria for trustworthiness to engineering criteria for trustworthiness in the built world. This extension has inspired several research projects at the TU Munich Georg Nemetschek Institute - AI for the Built World since 2022. These projects are briefly described. Expected outcomes beyond specific project results include the creation of a new generation of engineers who are aware of opportunities and risks of AI in the AEC industry.

Bio: Ian F.C. Smith is the Director of the Georg Nemetschek Institute, AI for the Built World, at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. From 1996 to 2020, he was Professor of Structural Engineering at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He received his PhD from Cambridge University, UK in 1982. His research interests are on intersections of computer science with structures and urban systems. In 2003, he co-authored the text book Fundamentals of Computer-Aided Engineering (Wiley) and the 2nd Edition appeared in June 2013. In 2004, he was elected to the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences and in 2005, he received the Computing in Civil Engineering Award from the ASCE. He is an Adjunct Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, USA since 2011. From 2010 to 2020, he directed a second research group in Asia as Principal Investigator at the ETH Future Cities Laboratory, CREATE, Singapore. In 2022, he was elected to the National Academy of Construction, USA.