Bring AI

By Marc Zao-Sanders

2 minute read

Bring AI. Introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) to your company would be cool thing to do. It’s nowhere near as hard as it may seem.

First, two primers. Skip to section 3 if you know about AI and Machine Learning (ML) already.

1. Artificial Intelligence in 100 words

Artificial flavouring is just synthetic flavouring, made to resemble natural flavouring. Artificial intelligence is just synthetic intelligence, made to resemble natural i.e. human intelligence.

AI does: voice recognition, natural language processing (NLP), natural language generation (NLG), image recognition and decision making. In other words they hear, listen, speak, see, decide - ordinary human stuff. The synthetic systems (software and hardware) behind all this are usually complex and often beyond human comprehension. But actually, this is true of organic human systems too!

2. Machine learning in 100 words

One special feature of human intelligence is that we learn. With experience we get better at a task over time. In exactly the same way, Machine Learning is just a machine getting better at a task with experience over time. Or as Tom M Mitchell put it 20 years ago:

A computer program is said to learn from experience E with respect to some class of tasks T and performance measure P if its performance at tasks in T, as measured by P, improves with experience E

Here's a collection of 60 minutes of the best introductory material on AI and ML I’ve seen:

3. Why it’s such a big deal for L&D now

AI is fast. So if there are some tasks that AI can perform as well as or even almost as well as a human, it may make sense to hand them over. Over the past decade algorithms have become a lot smarter and data sets have become a lot larger, mostly thanks to digitisation. All this means that there are now many more areas where AI outperforms human intelligence in quality, not just speed. Human parity speech recognition has now been achieved and one tangible consequence of this has been the introduction of Alexa to many of our homes.

Tech giants and startups are inevitably leading the way. But there’s a big opportunity to be part of the second wave of AI adoption for your company. There’s a lot of data at your disposal: CRM outputs, HR systems reports, LMS downloads, health data, finance and accounting, wearables, social media, etc. AI is the tool to help make sense of it to bring insights, ideas, better decisions, happier outcomes. Josh Bersin says it will be mainstream in 2020.

I think there’s an extra poignancy to all this for us. As learning professionals we should be especially interested in how we get machines to emulate human learning. We should all have something in particular to say about machine learning. And there’s no better way than to try, dabble, experiment.

4. Introducing AI to your company

Despite the hype, very few people actually get to introduce AI at their company. You can.

You can ease into this gently. As this pragmatic HBR article says, there’s a range of options for cognitive technologies, from the easy “mostly-buy” to the more involved “mostly-build. The article identifies the two easiest options:

  • Use an existing vendor’s software with cognitive capabilities.
  • Pick a small project and a “low hanging fruit” vendor

That ‘small project’ might simply be making better use of the learning content you have. That’s the small project we’re exclusively focused on solving for our clients. Our solution is not just about better learning, more skills, increased productivity (important though that is). It’s about bringing forward our client’s engagement with AI and cognitive technologies. 

This might not be impossibly expensive. Introducing a configured version of our AI stack, magpie is probably less expensive than you think and it can be live in 6 weeks, hooked up to your competency framework, your LMS, your learning assets.

So we invite you to work with us. Tell us about your business and the issues you face. Work closely with our solutions architects, data scientists and curators. Get some direct experience of some of the tech involved here: TensorFlow, magpie, neural nets, ML, NLP. Deliver true digital innovation.

Bring AI to your company.



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