What does the rise of AI mean for L&D?

by Brett Henebery10 Mar 2017
Moshe Vardi – a respected computer scientist and professor at Rice University, said that we are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans “at almost any task” - even if it does make you blush.

Vardi has made the bold prediction that half the world’s population could be unemployed within the next 30 years. The result would be that middle class jobs could rapidly decrease, while inequality would increase.

“I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?” he said.

While this question is likely to hang over the heads of training organisations for some time to come, some pioneers are confident that AI can be used to enhance – rather than replace – learners.

Daniel Serfaty, founder of the human-centred engineering firm Aptima and a pioneer in simulation science, says ability to tailor individual training to the individual is “the next great step in the evolution of training technology”.

And he says this has been made possible by the advent of affordable artificial intelligence (AI).

Serfaty says that eventually, AI will enable everyone to have a personal learning partner to enhance on-the-job performance.

“As the gap between our capabilities and those of our [rivals] gets closer, I believe the last frontier in which America and its allies can still have an advantage over our adversaries, is human performance,” Serfaty told military training leaders in December

According to Serfaty, in order to achieve this, American organisations must “take learning to the next level.”

“We have to develop technologies that enable us to adapt and personalise the training so that we can tailor that training to the individual,” Serfaty said. This, he added, is the “low-hanging fruit” in the race to leverage machine learning in training technology.

Using machine learning to identify the weaknesses of human performance – and then help them overcome those weaknesses by adapting the performance intervention to the correct level of knowledge and skill – is more than an ironic twist.

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