How did we get here today with AI? It feels like just yesterday artificial intelligence was confined to the realms of science fiction. But here we are, amid a technological revolution where AI has become an integral part of our lives—from voice assistants like Alexa and Siri to recommendation algorithms on shopping sites like Amazon and Walmart and streaming TV channels like Netflix. AI is transforming industries and reshaping how we work and learn. As learning professionals, we must develop skills and knowledge to harness the power of AI to stay ahead in this rapidly evolving landscape.
Reflecting on 2020, I delivered a session at ATD TK on machine learning. Unfortunately, it was met with lukewarm attendance. But let’s face it, in 2020, the world was grappling with the pandemic and its immediate aftermath. We were all focused on adapting to the unknown future that threatened our very existence. We were forced into remote work and learning. The last thing on anyone’s mind was exploring the nuances of emerging technologies. But, fast forward just three years to today, and we see that the tides have shifted—drastically. The importance of AI in learning and development has gained significant momentum, and we are at a tipping point.
Now, we all know that AI is the hottest topic at this moment in time. I like to think of it as similar to when the internet was born or when cell phones were first introduced in the 1900s. AI is the new technological frontier. But what really is this new technology called, generative AI? To answer the question, generative AI is an AI technology that allows machines to create original content, such as text, images, videos, and even audio, in a way that mimics human creativity. It goes beyond just analyzing data and making predictions; it can generate new and unique outputs. So, imagine a scenario where AI can create personalized learning experiences for each individual, adapting to their unique needs, roles, and learning preferences. This is not a distant dream but a reality that’s unfolding before us. According to a study by Gartner, by 2023, 30 percent of companies will be using AI to personalize learning experiences for their employees, resulting in increased engagement and improved learning outcomes.
Generative AI has the power to revolutionize learning and development. It can help us create immersive simulations, virtual reality experiences, and interactive scenarios that make learning more engaging and impactful. Instead of passive consumption of information, learners can actively participate and interact with AI-generated content, making the learning process more dynamic and, may I even say, enjoyable. With generative AI, we can create customized training materials and resources. Learning professionals can leverage AI algorithms to automatically generate jobs aid—workbooks, instructional videos, and interactive modules tailored to the specific needs of their learners. Not only is it a huge time saver but it also ensures that learning content is relevant, up-to-date, and more effective than our current “click next to continue” content.
Looking ahead to the next two to three years, the impact of generative AI on learning and development will be profound. We can expect to see a shift towards more personalized and adaptive learning experiences, where AI plays a central role in content creation, delivery, and learner assessment. Learners will have access to various AI-powered tools and platforms that cater to their individual learning needs and preferences. Learning and development toolboxes will also be filled with AI-powered tools that help automate tedious workflows so you can focus on what really matters: creating engaging and impactful learning experiences. However, it’s important to tread carefully and ensure that ethical considerations are at the forefront of AI adoption in learning and development. As AI becomes more widely integrated into the learning landscape, we must address concerns around data privacy, algorithmic bias, and transparency. Right now, there is an elephant in the room that most are unsure how to address. We need to be establishing robust ethical guidelines and practices so that we can harness the power of AI while safeguarding the rights and well-being of learners.
The road to this point in AI has been both remarkable and awe-inspiring. Over its 100-year journey, AI has reached its spotlight moment; it has the potential to become a game-changer in learning and development. With generative AI at our disposal, we can unleash a new era of personalized, engaging, and effective learning experiences. So, let’s embrace this transformative technology, adapt to the changing landscape, and empower ourselves as learning professionals to shape the future of education. As the famous saying goes, “The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create.” And with generative AI, we can create a future of limitless learning possibilities.
For more information about AI, check out ATD's AI resource page.