Above the clouds and still with both feet on the ground – cloud computing for medium-sized businesses
23. September 2019

With artificial intelligence on a lifelong learning journey

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T he production factor work is increasingly developing into an interplay of man and machine. Starting from the vision that robots, computers and algorithms can support humans in their work, especially in the area of standardized processes, it becomes very clear that human abilities and competencies must also change if this cooperation is to bring added value. The digital working world therefore demands lifelong development – an individually designed learning and experience journey. In my opinion, the focus in future will not only be on digital skills such as programming or IT technology, but above all on the skills that have always characterised people: Creativity, emotional intelligence and the ability to network (see my BLOG article). Another aspect is the connection with new technologies. Artificial intelligence will be everywhere in a digital world. “AI is like electricity,” is the assumption of numerous futurologists. But the basis for effective use is natural intelligence (i.e. in humans), which interacts with artificial intelligence. The boundaries between human and machine work are increasingly blurred, and hybrid working models are already being implemented in industrial manufacturing. In the future, the role of the human being will be to assume responsibility for the quality of results, to make decisions at important points, and otherwise to take care of the innovative and creative parts of the processes. This offers the opportunity for work to become more flexible, more humane and more adaptable to the individual’s rhythm of life.

Introducing artificial intelligence at all levels of education

In the consequence of the outlined version it becomes clear that the acquisition of knowledge, skills and abilities will change significantly! Just as we will use artificial intelligence in manufacturing processes in the future, it will also be necessary to use artificial intelligence to accompany the learning of each individual. New technologies must not stop at schools. Nowadays a teacher is already extremely challenged in many places by the social tensions in the classes. Larger classes, cultural differences and different levels of language and education, especially in the Grundschulden, make it almost impossible for pupils to individually promote learning. Here software with artificial intelligence could support and filter out individual strengths and weaknesses in individual subjects, and/or promote the pupils purposefully with tasks. Homework would thus be individualised and the learning outcomes of the entire class would improve. Teachers can concentrate more on building competence “from person to person”, which goes far beyond the mere transfer of knowledge. The fact that the use of AI-based software is a helpful option is currently demonstrated by a start-up in Hamburg, which uses learning software as a “coach” in the subject of mathematics at dozens of schools. The results of this pilot project are convincing, the overall performance of the pupils in a class is demonstrably better and at the same time the enjoyment of mathematics increases, as those affected receive tasks that are individually adapted to their level of performance. The typical effects that everyone knows from mathematics lessons, that the weak give up and the experts are frustrated because it is not demanding enough, are now a thing of the past.

AI as a companion on the learning journey

The continuation of the idea of using AI already at school leads to training / study and finally to professional life. I am firmly convinced that the classic career path from “training to retirement” will no longer exist. We do not yet know what opportunities technology will provide in 20 years’ time. Many industries have already gone through this process of change or are currently in the midst of radical change. A banker who completed an apprenticeship 30 years ago and is now working in the banking sector had the prospect of a secure job until retirement. Today, at the age of 40, he realises that he cannot assume that his classic expertise will be needed for another 15 years. Artificial intelligence could provide him with important support for the necessary further development. Thanks to the possibility of identifying patterns through AI and matching them with other patterns, AI could filter its strengths and weaknesses and show a development path. Perhaps with his competence he is well suited to help an aspiring start-up with its next round of financing. Perhaps he only needs a few training measures to find an attractive job in the bank of the future.

In the end, the human being is the DECISIONING factor.

With all artificial intelligence, the decision for the individual learning journey is not taken away from you. The state can create the regulatory conditions, the technology can support the implementation, the employer can provide appropriate support. The responsibility for lifelong learning and development lies with each individual and cannot be delegated. The prerequisites for lifelong learning using artificial intelligence are manifold, ranging from the flexibilisation of working hours to the promotion of further training outside one’s own field to the technical conditions that must be met. People should be open to these developments and many workers should shed their fears of change. This is an important prerequisite for combating the shortage of skilled workers. A good example here are the employees in administrations. Many people value job security and accept jobs that are neither creative nor value-adding. The vast majority of administrative activities can even be digitised in the medium term. On the other hand, there is an increasing shortage of manpower, especially in the service sector and in manufacturing. With the help of appropriate further training and individually designed training programmes, interest in completely new job profiles can also be awakened. Artificial intelligence will play a much more important role in the future, not least in personnel recruitment. I am convinced that jobs will no longer be awarded on the basis of ready-made CVs, but according to competencies, individual interests and experience profiles. These can already be found in social networks across all sectors. Companies are therefore dependent on identifying exactly the right profiles from the mass of possibilities, and AI will support them in this.

Where do you start tomorrow?

In times of digital change, entrepreneurs are particularly challenged to make decisions for the future. This applies in particular to those areas in which employees are directly involved. After all, the associated cultural change is a longer process of change.
  • Identify the employees in the company who, due to their job profile and the associated changes, urgently need to develop their competence profile.
  • Look for training partners who are suitable for your company and professionally accompany the development of your employees.
  • Create opportunities to find out about new technologies and industry trends, regardless of your position and task, and thus reduce fears of change.
  • Take the promotion of employees as an opportunity to become an attractive employer for new employees or to retain existing employees.
The aim should be for companies to see themselves as “facilitators” for the lifelong development of employees. This not only strengthens the loyalty to the company, but at the same time increases innovative strength and competitiveness in the market.   Dr. Alexander Bode