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June 2018
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The impact of AI on organisational learning

In today’s world, children as young as pre-schoolers have already started using tablets while top executive education programmes boast high-tech facilities where corporate leaders can learn in new ways. We have also seen the rise of e-learning and distance learning for many university degrees, with students learning online without ever having to step into a classroom.

In today’s world, children as young as pre-schoolers have already started using tablets while top executive education programmes boast high-tech facilities where corporate leaders can learn in new ways. We have also seen the rise of e-learning and distance learning for many university degrees, with students learning online without ever having to step into a classroom. 

In other words, learning today is accessible in many forms beyond the conventional formal setting of the classroom and through textbooks. It can take place anywhere and at any time.

One technological advancement that has been attracting more attention lately is artificial intelligence (AI), which refers to the ability of computers and machines to perform like humans in terms of thinking, understanding and learning.

AI is already making inroads in everyday life through practical applications such as voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, convenient ride-hailing apps like Uber, and purchase predictions and recommendations based on your online shopping history. An even more impressive AI advancement is Hanson Robotics’ AI robot, Sophia.

In short, AI is beginning to affect consumers’ daily lives, and businesses are rushing to tap its potential. In fact, Alan Murray, the editor of Fortune magazine, has declared the advancement of AI one of the 2018 business trends to watch for. AI is undoubtedly advancing fast and is being utilised where it fits best for businesses. But how can AI influence the learning of your people?

One thing for sure is that AI can affect the learning experience. When it comes to learning, especially in diverse organisations, it is not a case of one-size-fits-all. The use of AI can assist in the personalisation of learning for each individual, team or organisation. You might have already seen this at work through online courses on websites like Coursera or Udemy, which adapt according to your goals.

When you foster a strong learning culture for your organisation, personalised learning affects your people in a positive way, as the content of each course or learning module caters to individual or team needs and goals.

Another way that AI can enhance organisational learning is through the assessment and feedback system. Feedback and assessment of your people, especially in large organisations, can really be time-consuming and inconvenient. Additionally, honest feedback is a delicate subject that many avoid tackling.

Utilising AI can not only cover assessment for a large number of people in a shorter time, but it also allows your people to give honest feedback without the fear of damaging relationships. 

AI is definitely an amazing advancement. In more ways than one, it has helped the human race in terms of efficiency. However, it should be noted that it does have some downsides.

One downside in the context of organisational learning is the lack of a human touch. AI has yet to master two important qualities that we humans have -- intuition and judgement. Although some might argue that we may be better off in some cases without human judgement, in other cases human compassion and understanding are still required.

Another downside is the limited creativity of the AI-assisted learning experience. As earlier mentioned, AI can make learning more personalises, but it does so in a logical manner based on available inputs, and can learn only as much as it is programmed to. Therefore, the challenge of finding creative ways to make learning interesting for your organisation still lies within people.

AI -- and technology as a whole -- has its ups and downs. For business leaders, it is always a concern when dealing with potential risks of technology. All leaders would be wise to learn as much as they can about AI and what it can do for their organisation. They should also be aware of what it can’t do.

Leveraging AI can do great things for our businesses, but we certainly cannot rely on technology alone. The point of AI is to utilise it with your people, rather than replacing them with it. This not only gives your people the ammunition to learn and grow but also empowers them to improve themselves, which in turn adds up to growth for your business.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC (formerly APMGroup) Southeast Asia's leading executive, leadership and innovation capability development centre. She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.linkedin.com/in/arinya-talerngsri-53b81aa

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Origin: https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/news/1414122/the-impact-of-ai-on-organisational-learning

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