15 May 2023

What MHR Learned From Learning Technologies 2023

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Learning Technologies is one of the leading showcases of organisational learning and the tech used to support learning at work. We’re bringing you the key insights.

Throughout the entire show, it was clear that AI was the driving force behind most of the conversations that were happening. The controversial tech has led to clear dividing lines being drawn, with some organisations claiming it will save their industry, while others think it cause nothing but trouble.

While ChatGPT is the most obvious test case (and we will be referring to it throughout this blog as a key example), AI has the capacity to grow far beyond a chatbot. There are numerous examples of it being used in a huge variety of industries to drive growth and development. But equally, there’s been numerous controversies, with some spelling trouble in the very near future.

Our team have been listening to these conversations, and here’s the information we’ve been able to draw out.

The Case For AI

Several companies came out vocally in support of AI with one elaborate demo featuring ChatGPT-produced presentation slides in three distinct languages.

Their crucial point is that AI is one of the fastest growing technologies in history, and it can’t be ignored. Humans struggle to keep up with the modern world, and AI is fantastic at smoothing things over and speeding processes up.

Industries across the globe are experiencing issues with recruitment, as well as skills gaps. In addition to plugging those skill gaps directly (although it still requires a great deal of human oversight), it can also offer improved training. With 80% of the 2030 workforce already in work, finding new ways to upskill the employees that are already out there will be crucial.

It was also observed that while AI might seem completely revolutionary, it could also be regarded as a collection of advanced Google searches. Keeping this in mind makes the whole thing seem a lot less intimidating. Imagine trying to ban Google from your workplace.

"In terms of underlying techniques, ChatGPT is not particularly innovative... It's nothing revolutionary, although that's the way it's perceived in the public... It's just well put together, it's nicely done.”- Yann LeCun, Chief AI Scientist at Meta.

The Case Against AI

On the other side a number of businesses firmly stated their opposition to AI. They had a number of concerns that the current designs can’t really account for.

The ethics of AI was the driving issue. There have been several examples of users finding ways to circumnavigate the restrictions placed on ChatGPT. This leads to it producing quite dangerous content.

While they’re funny to read about on Twitter, this should lead to a lot of concerns. The AI itself doesn’t have a conscience, which can lead to massive risks for the corporate world.

Data privacy should also be a massive concern. If you’ve had a conversation with ChatGPT, it’s used that conversation to further refine its algorithms in future. At a glance, this seems harmless. It might even seem useful, as the AI grows its understanding of conversation organically.

But imagine a query involving sensitive customer data. That information is now somewhere within ChatGPT. Can this data be compromised? Could a bad actor find a way to access that data, or could someone stumble across it while playing around with the system? There’s no way to know for sure until something goes wrong.

There’s also the fact that AIs have the capability to be confidently incorrect. Even OpenAI have a disclaimer on their own website saying that ChatGPT is capable of writing things that sound plausible but are actually completely false. Think of it like someone who’s just seen the latest medical drama on TV, it doesn’t make them a qualified doctor.

Any content produced by it needs to be fact checked rigorously. This hampers its ability to be used as both a tool for research and a tool for driving learning. Getting useable results from AI is often a time-consuming task, which may reduce the benefits.

The Key Takeaway

What’s your take? Do you think AI is a revolutionary tech that needs to be embraced now to stay ahead of the curve? Or do you think it needs to be clamped down on before it causes real harm to the world? How do you think it could be used in learning?

Hannah Jeacock, MHR’s research director, has been leading the charge in our own analysis of AI, ensuring that we have a truly rounded picture of this emerging technology. If you’d like to find out more about what her team have come up with, check out our MHR Labs blogs.

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