We’re only just getting into 2023 but already it is clear that this is going to be the year we all remember as the beginning of the rise of Artificial intelligence (AI).

Many industries and professions have already begun to be disrupted by AI, leading to concerns about job loss and automation. Geotechnical engineering is not immune to this disruption with many aspects of the field currently being revolutionized. The use of AI algorithms is already being used help to automate and streamline various aspects of geotechnical projects, from site investigation through to geotechnical design and analysis.

Some examples include:

  • – In the United States, AI algorithms are being used to analyze large amounts of geotechnical data, such as geophysical surveys and borehole logs, to help identify potential subsurface hazards and areas of interest. This is helping to improve the accuracy and efficiency of site investigations, reducing the time and costs associated with these processes.
  • – In Europe, AI algorithms are being used to assist in geotechnical design and analysis, including slope stability analysis, foundation design, and soil mechanics. These AI algorithms are also being used in real-time monitoring systems to continuously monitor the behavior of geotechnical structures, such as slopes and retaining walls. This is providing valuable insights into soil mechanics and geotechnical behavior, and helping to identify potential hazards and problems before they become serious.
  • – And in Australia, AI algorithms are being used to optimize foundation designs, taking into account site-specific conditions, load conditions, and design constraints, to improve the efficiency and reliability of foundation systems.

With AI having such a significant impact on the world right now, the question remains – will AI replace geotechnical engineering jobs? While the answer isn’t entirely ‘no,’ you probably don’t need to lose sleep about losing your job anytime soon. 

The impact of AI on the field of geotechnical engineering will be much more complex and nuanced than in other industries. While AI has the potential to automate certain tasks in geotechnical engineering and to improve the efficiency and accuracy of these tasks, it is not likely to completely replace geotechnical engineers. 

Geotechnical engineering is a highly specialized field that requires a deep understanding of soil mechanics, rock mechanics, and geotechnical design principles, as well as practical experience and expertise in site investigation, laboratory testing, and field observations. These are areas where AI has not yet reached the level of sophistication and creativity to replace human expertise. Geotechnical engineers are also responsible for making critical decisions that impact the safety and stability of structures, and their expertise and experience cannot be fully replicated by AI.

Instead of stealing jobs, AI has the potential to augment and enhance the work of geotechnical engineers. AI will automate repetitive and data-intensive tasks, such as data analysis, site characterization, and slope stability analysis, freeing up time and resources for geotechnical engineers to focus on more complex and creative tasks. AI will also provide new insights and approaches for tackling complex problems in geotechnical engineering, leading to new opportunities for innovation and growth in the field.

In fact, the technological advances with AI will also help create new jobs, because we will need more engineers to research, create, and test AI systems that are being used throughout site characterization and design processes. 

AI has the potential to enhance and augment the work of geotechnical engineers, allowing them to focus on more complex and creative tasks, while the repetitive and data-intensive tasks are automated. This means that the field of geotechnical engineering is poised for growth and innovation as AI continues to evolve and mature. It’s an exciting time, not a scary one!

What do you think? Does your consultancy plan on incorporating AI in your business? Let us know!