A Brief History of AI

First coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, artificial intelligence (AI) was described as machines that can perform tasks that are characteristic of human intelligence. In 1959, Arthur Samuel defined AI as “the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.” In 1966, the first AI Chatbot, ELIZA, was “born.”

Today, we are seeing artificial intelligence seep into the workplace and our daily lives as tools that augment tasks and streamline monotonous labor, from the estimated arrival time and pricing of your Uber ride, to your recommendations on Spotify and Amazon, to more complex interactions in customer service. For example, some companies are listening to customer service calls and assigning an empathy score based on how compassionate agents are and how fast and capably they settle complaints. AI is running in the background, recognizing patterns and interpreting data more quickly than humanly possible. Even Google CEO Sundar Pichai has proclaimed the importance of AI to be “more profound” than the impact of electricity or fire.

The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that AI could create between $3.5 and $5.8 trillion in annual value in the global economy each year. Even government, an entity known to lag behind technology, has recognized the impact of AI. The U.S. government, for example, established the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to unify its AI research and development and speed up the adoption of AI tools.

Jobs Created and Jobs Lost

The optimism in the value and jobs created from AI often coincides with the fear of job loss and the difficulty reskilling workers. The World Economic Forum’s report “Towards a Reskilling Revolution” states, “40 percent of employers reported difficulties in finding skilled talent,” and the number of employers working to retrain and develop people internally has more than doubled since 2015. With AI and automation driving change, there is an increasing need for investment in corporate learning to reskill and help employees react efficiently. Just as people see the value in AI and corporate learning, we are now at a time where AI is being used in corporate learning.

Artificial Intelligence in Corporate Training

As the global corporate training market exceeds $300 billion, learning platforms have begun to mimic the successful qualities of consumer content platforms like Netflix and Spotify. Organizations are transitioning from the legacy learning management systems (LMSs) traditionally designed and used for HR, compliance and formal training to learning experience platforms (LXPs or LEPs) to accommodate for the digital, remote and on-the-go workplace.

Similar to how Spotify “suggests” playlists personalized to your music tastes and delivers the music with a simple interface, accessible wherever you have a device, LXPs use experience API, artificial intelligence and machine learning to aggregate data and curate personalized content. Just as AI and automation will undoubtedly make some jobs redundant, using AI, LXPs can reskill employees to new roles by delivering relevant learning content. LXPs have begun to contextualize content, delivering it from millions of sources based on individual preferences, behavior, background, interests and skills.

The Future of AI in the Workplace

The rise of AI in learning and development could not have come at a more opportune time. By 2020, millennials will make up approximately 75 percent of the workforce, and according to Gallup research, 87 percent of this generation says professional development or career growth opportunities are very important to them in a job. With a majority of the future workforce craving professional development, businesses have already begun to offer learning opportunities and skills development in order to retain and attract quality talent. Not only will AI create learning experiences delivered at the speed at which millennial learners demand content, it will just as quickly analyze learning data to reskill the workers being made redundant by AI.