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How will artificial intelligence change training in the next few years?

If you mention Artificial Intelligence (AI) to a room full of executives these days, get ready to hear a lot of thinking that will blow your mind about the vast impact AI will have not only on training, but on business in general.

vector image of a brain over a device signifying artificial intelligence in training

People seem to think that AI means that computers and machines that contain them can now think and reason about problems in ways that only humans could until recently. Those people – and there are many of them – believe that machines will soon be able to experience emotions.

And by and large, those people will be wrong about AI’s most advanced current abilities.


AI’s current abilities fall into only two areas

Voice, handwriting and object recognition

We are all accustomed to talking into phones and computers and having them “understand” and follow commands. When you call a customer service line and “explain” the reason for your call and are then connected to the human being who can address your issue, that is really voice recognition happening, and that is a rudimentary form of AI, probably powered by computers that are equipped with neural network structures that can understand what you are asking for. The same holds true when you write your signature on a touchpad and it “recognizes” you. Only three decades ago, those forms of recognition were still well in the future. They are here today and are probably the most common examples of AI you will encounter in your daily life.

Predictive diagnostics and analytics

This is a second variety of AI-powered application which, although becoming more common, might be less familiar to you. You will encounter it less often than voice recognition, but it is impacting on your life most often in helping to manage your health. One example? If your medical records show that you have been gaining weight and that your body mass index is rising, a computer can intercede and predict, “This person is probably going to develop pre-diabetes or type two diabetes.” Of course someone, or some system, has to enter your data in order for a computer to jump in and say, “watch out!” But increasingly, computers are being positioned to do just that.


How will AI-based technology affect training in the coming few years?

Don’t be disappointed if you think that, based on the comments just above, not much AI-influenced change is going to happen soon. Here are some changes that are already happening in training:

Virtual reality-based training is becoming more interactive and realistic

Expect to see more virtual reality headsets, goggles, and haptic gloves in training rooms. These devices make sights and sounds and tactile inputs more realistic to trainees. But that is not where the AI comes in. AI happens when these devices allow trainees to experience more realistic interactivity with computers. When a trainee who is wearing a haptic glove can “feel” what it is like to tighten a screw in a car she is learning to service and learns how to perform that action correctly, for example, that is AI-based technology at work.

Mixed virtual training will increase

That means that people will take training using systems that mix computerized and real-world experiences. When a live human trainer takes learners through a series of experiences in which they interact virtually and are evaluated by computers, for example, that is an example of AI-enhanced learning.

Virtual reality training is going to be delivered on phones and other smart devices to learners in remote locations.

As computers become more powerful, trainees anywhere will be able to engage in virtual-reality training. In other words, the days when on-phone training consisted of multiple-choice questions and a few videos are quickly fading, thanks to AI-enabled applications.


Get Ready for Change

AI-enhanced training might not be as dramatic or as revolutionary as you think. Will a friendly talking robot walk into your company training center and teach your lessons? Well, no.

But will the changes be dramatic – maybe even revolutionary? Yes, they will. Keep an open mind and get ready for a brave new world of training.