February 2021
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Humans and Machines Ought to Learn Together
TD Magazine

Humans and Machines Ought to Learn Together

Monday, February 1, 2021

Companies that develop mutual learning opportunities reap the most results from artificial intelligence.

Although more than half of organizations are piloting or deploying artificial intelligence in their business operations, less than one in 10 are using it to generate significant financial benefits, according to MIT Sloan Management Review's new report. What's the difference between organizations that are seeing results with AI and those that aren't? The study, Expanding AI's Impact With Organizational Learning, suggests that mutual learning between humans and AI is the key.


Three-quarters of study participants who created opportunities for mutual human and AI learning derived substantial financial benefits. They were about twice as likely to do so compared to companies that used other best practices but did not create mutual learning opportunities.

What does interactive learning between humans and AI look like? According to the report, it involves "combining multiple teaching and learning methods to take advantage of humans' and machines' distinctive strengths and weaknesses," using feedback and interactions to enable them "to understand the other's logic and reasoning."

For example, managers should be able to take an AI recommendation, explore it, and gain new insight regarding their business unit's strategy or operations. And AI should be able to take human feedback on its recommendations as input and use it to influence future suggestions.

One important step talent development professionals can take to foster feedback loops is persuading business leaders to see learning as a competitive advantage and employees to view it as a way of life. The report advises that "learning with AI entails significant, and sometimes uncomfortable, change" to organizational structures, processes, and behaviors, which a learning culture is highly useful for navigating. What's more, a strong learning culture can support the effectiveness of formal training on key knowledge and skills needed to interact with AI, such as understanding data-driven insights and using emerging technologies responsibly.

About the Author

Alex Moore is a research analyst for the Association for Talent Development. Alex returned to ATD in 2019 after spending a year living and working in Chile. Prior to moving abroad, Alex was a writer/editor for ATD working on TD magazine, a research coordinator at ATD, and a customer care advocate at ATD. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a B.A. in English.

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