Trust, verify, use: Yao Morin on AI in real estate

There are three words Yao Morin wants everyone to keep in mind when it comes to artificial intelligence: trust, verify and use.

JLL’s chief technology officer kicked off The Real Deal’s first forum on Nov. 10. The event capped three days of real estate programming in South Florida and followed the main showcase the day prior.

“Embrace it. Don’t be afraid of it,” Morin said during her keynote address. “AI is real and moving very fast.”

Her remarks come about a year after OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT and thrust discourse about generative AI into the public sphere. Since OpenAI released ChatGPT-4, Google followed up with Bard and microchip-producer NVIDIA’s stock price exploded over 200 percent as the company rode the AI investment wave.

To drive home how rapidly generative is becoming mainstream, Morin said Uber took 70 months to get 100 million users. It took OpenAI two.

“It’s really exciting to be in this era where generative AI will make a big impact in our life and the real estate industry.”

How will AI impact the real estate industry?

Morin said it will increase demand for data centers, faster transactions, more efficient analytics of properties and highly customized environment settings. 

It can also streamline work for companies. Brokerages with the funds, technical expertise and data, can, and have, created their own chatbots trained on their own data.

Morin demonstrated a chatbot built by JLL that is available internally to its employees and can carry out common tasks, such as reading a PDF and creating summaries. She said the chatbot is finetuned with the company’s data, and retains control of its data, unlike when someone directly interacts with the ChatGPT interface on OpenAI’s website.

The point? AI can reduce time spent on mundane tasks, freeing up more time for agents to handle other tasks that AI can’t. 

She also called on companies to adopt ethical guidelines for AI use and warned that not everything it tells you will be accurate and must be checked.

Generative AI, she cautioned, is based on statistical modeling. It predicts which word follows the next when it generates an answer to a question. As with all things statistical, it can be wrong. But despite warnings of inaccuracy, companies are charging full-steam ahead. 

“Your peers believe that technology will impact their businesses,” she said. “So they’re investing in it.”

She referenced a JLL study that found over 80 percent of real estate companies plan to increase their tech budget and said more than 500 companies offer AI-powered services to real estate.

It’s not just other businesses, either. Younger generations have already made AI an integral part of their lives.

“For anyone with children at home, they’re using it to write their homework,” she said. “They’re probably better users than you are.”

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