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Looking Under AI’s Hood

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Mon Jan 22 2024

Looking Under AI’s Hood
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More than three-quarters of organizations are using artificial intelligence (AI) today—that’s according to C-suite executives surveyed for a 2023 UKG report. Further, employees who are embracing AI believe that it’ll lead to greater engagement and job satisfaction, willingness to go above and beyond, and overall happiness.

If you’re a talent development professional, how do you get started providing AI that employees want? In “Unlocking the Power of AI,” Myra Roldan provides a primer on the technology, explains what AI can do for L&D, and offers advice about AI’s ethics and security.

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Your AI Questions, Answered

I hear about AI all the time, but I’m not quite sure I understand it. If that’s you, you’re not alone.

Roldan likens AI to a car, with machine learning (ML) the engine and deep learning (DL) the fuel to run the car. Like a car’s engine, ML enables the car to move; ML analyzes data and does things like making predictions. DL, meanwhile, “provides immense amounts of data that feed and train complex ML models to recognize patterns and features,” writes Roldan.

Many people also wonder about the difference between AI and generative AI. Traditional AI solves problems based on preprogrammed instructions. Generative AI, as the name hints, creates or generates new content. But how?

Generative AI, such as ChatGPT, is powered by large language models. L&D practitioners provide the generative AI tool instructions for creating content through prompts. Prompts might include things like “Generate a list of potential learning objectives” or “Evaluate the effectiveness of instruction,” notes Roldan.

Take the Car Out for a Test Drive

Roldan outlines a few AI uses L&D teams might want to consider.

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The first is curating and customizing generative content. Using AI, learning platforms can create personalized learning materials, such as reading lists, podcasts, and microlearning to fill knowledge gaps the employee may have.

A second AI use is creating personalized learning paths. While we’ve talked about personalization for several years, the capacity for such has been limited in scope. Now, however, AI tools can analyze an employee’s profile and performance data to not just recommend specific content but “dynamically sequence and pace learning activities, assess mastery, and modify the path in response to the learner’s evolving needs,” explains Roldan.

Do you want to save time? Who doesn’t? A third AI use is process automation. AI can automate many administrative tasks and provide guidance to learners with 24/7 support.

Finally, AI can analyze learner data, with dashboards providing insights into the effectiveness of learning materials and learner satisfaction, for example.

License and Insurance Required

As intriguing as AI may seem, with its capabilities and potential benefits, L&D teams shouldn’t dive in before doing their homework.

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Generative AI collects significant amounts of data; it has to in order to train the models. This data might include personal information as well as proprietary company information, and it could be misused and is susceptible to breaches.

Roldan advises L&D professionals to read the fine print of the AI tool with questions in mind such as, “Is the tool safe for commercial business use?” and “Who maintains ownership of the information that I put into the tool?”

Generative AI tools are only as good as the data—or fuel—they have been given. Ethical concerns include bias, misinformation, and transparency.

Make Sure the Road Is Clear

As you go out for the first spin around the block, Roldan recommends starting small, conducting controlled pilots.

Maintain the human element. Review the content and blend AI’s capacity with the human touch.

Partner with a reputable AI vendor. Do your due diligence to ensure the vendor you’re contemplating working with has ethical design principles.

And enjoy the drive!

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