Science & Technology

How AI and language intelligence are helping employees learn

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This article was contributed by Walter Bender, CTO and cofounder of Sorcero.

Language AI is now ubiquitous. It helps us filter information everywhere, from search engines to chatbots. But when it comes to helping humans process information, AI has untapped potential.

When used in the service of learning and decision-making, AI has the power to augment human abilities in impactful and revolutionary ways. In particular, when we harness today’s advanced language intelligence models, we can improve how we extract meaning from unstructured text, which helps us to make better business decisions faster.

Stop thinking about humans vs. AI and start thinking about humans + AI

We tend to react with fear when we think about a future where robots replace humans in our workplaces and our lives. But the truth is, we don’t need to think of robots as the competition. Rather, we need to think about the many ways automation and AI can help give us superhuman powers, helping us to be more productive, more efficient, and more effective.

In particular, when it comes to language intelligence, AI can help provide humans with more accurate information more frequently. With the ability to aggregate key information from a vast number and variety of sources, AI opens the door to better insights, better collaboration, and, ultimately, better results. What’s more, with a supermajority of respondents in a 2020 Deloitte survey saying their organizations have embarked on a path to intelligent automation (a 25% increase from the previous year), now is clearly the time to embrace the advantageous partnership between humans and intelligent machines.

Using AI as a learning companion

Having worked in the field of electronic publishing, media, and technology since the 70s, I’ve seen the rapidly growing evolution of AI firsthand. Along the way, I’ve come to recognize that language intelligence, which we first saw as simply a means to help us better access information, is really a key tool to help us understand and learn — to empower humans in ways not previously possible.

Early on in my career, as a scientist at MIT, I ran a research lab in electronic publishing and a research program on the future of news. My lab was immediately next door to labs run by Marvin Minsky and Seymour Papert, the founder and former co-directors of the MIT AI Lab. As the students of our labs began to spend time together discussing their work with each other, they brought new interdisciplinary ideas to our research efforts. It was then, with the benefit of these fresh perspectives, that I started to rethink the premise of what my research group was doing.

Recognizing that effective learning and decision-making is central to helping businesses meet objectives and is a key way to move the news industry in the future, our lab shifted focus from information access to how to architect around the goal of learning. We understood that AI could not only help improve how we consume information, but could serve as an invaluable vehicle for putting information into context, which is fundamental scaffolding for learning.

To this day, I believe strongly in the principle that AI has the potential to help people learn, grow, and be more productive. AI is a learning companion, and we can all benefit from the cooperative relationship between things AI and things human.

How AI and language intelligence can boost business performance

In any job, in any business, the ability to make intelligent decisions is central to success. With AI, and, in particular, language intelligence, we get a significant advantage in this regard. Beyond providing a better way to filter information, AI gives us access to insights we may have overlooked that have been pulled from a greater volume of information than we could read and process ourselves.

With the advancement of AI and language intelligence, we now have much more sophisticated models to work with than the general language models of the past. Today’s best-of-breed consumption models offer more targeted and personalized ways to consume content, offering everything from domain-specific hierarchical knowledge to highly accurate content tagging.

Now, with the ability to leverage vast quantities of data and content, organizations have the power to improve internal processes and consumer experiences alike, leading to significantly better outcomes. In fact, according to research from Accenture, AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035 and increase labor productivity by up to 40%.

Indeed, with human-centered AI, organizations are able to boost the potential of their employees, investing in their success and their workplace satisfaction, rather than replacing them. At a time when the war for talent is fierce, this gives employers a significant competitive advantage.

The key is to embrace the transformation AI offers, rather than fear it. By shifting to this perspective and viewing AI for what it is — as a powerful learning companion — we can start to see how human-machine collaboration can help teams do their jobs better, enable better decision-making, and deliver greater ROI. There’s no robot takeover in sight.

Walter Bender is CTO and cofounder of Sorcero.

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