Why the Workforce Should Have AI Training
By Floriane Charles
As one of the main technological advances today, artificial intelligence has the power to revolutionize modern industrial operations. It has demonstrated promising results in sciences and medicine. By rendering diagnoses that doctors struggled with themselves, or by changing the way businesses gather and use data, AI’s capacity to understand and manipulate data could theoretically exceed that of humans. In a recent TED talk, Zeynep Tufekci discusses a computer scientist who attempted to use artificial intelligence to discover the onset of mania from social media posts before clinical symptoms manifested themselves, with accurate results. However, he had no idea how the AI worked or what it was picking up on. This shows the power of AI as well as the problem with how finite our understanding of AI can be.
A study performed in early September of this year consisting of 3000 business executives, managers and analysts from 112 countries and 21 industries showed the following results:
72% of respondents in the technology, media and telecommunication industries expect artificial intelligence to have a significant impact on product offerings in the next five years.
84% said that AI will enable them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage.
75% believe that AI will allow them to move into new businesses or ventures.
69% expect incumbent competitors in their industry to use artificial intelligence to gain an advantage.
63% believe that the pressure to reduce costs will actually require their organizations to use AI in the next five years.
Given these statistics, it would be easy to assume that most executives today are familiar with, and know how to use AI to benefit their organization. Surprisingly, this isn’t the case. The study classified organizations in four clusters depending on their level of AI adoption and understanding.
Pioneers (19%): organizations that both understand and have adopted AI
Investigators (32%): organizations that understand AI but are not deploying it beyond pilot stage
Experimenters (13%): organizations that are piloting or adopting AI without a deep understanding
Passives (36%): organizations with no adoption or much understanding of AI.
In these graphs, we can see the barriers to AI adoption and to our understanding of it:
As mentioned earlier, one of the main barriers to the AI adoption is the lack of knowledge and understanding. For pioneers, the biggest hurdle is grasping the practicalities of developing AI, or acquiring AI talent. While they may understand how to use artificial intelligence, they struggle to find other people who can be trained in this field. Passives, on the other hand, have not even come to terms with what AI can actually do for them. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones; less than half of the overall respondents actually understand the processes required to train algorithms or data needs of algorithms. Thus, we conclude that generating business value from AI is directly affected by the lack of effective training to understand AI algorithms and a lack of people who can create them.
THE NEXT STEPS
So what does this mean? For most businesses to adopt and effectively use artificial intelligence, we need to encourage training, which leads to a workforce that understands how to create and use AI across many industries. If everyone understood it, businesses would be capable of cutting back on costs, leveraging data more effectively, or changing the way daily operations are run. This would address the main barrier to adopting AI, and possibly the whole phenomenon of passive companies. Indeed, we wouldn’t see any company whose artificial intelligence knowledge isn’t sufficient for operational use. If everyone who was required to use artificial intelligence truly understood its ability and was capable of fully exploiting it, the threshold of possibilities would greatly expand. The Harvard Business Review sheds some light on the way AI is being used today:
It is clear that any business can benefit from artificial intelligence. Once again, this pushes for a workforce who understands this need and can do something about it. The workforce which will allow businesses to enter a new era of productivity one that comprehends AI, and the one that was trained to become competent in the usage of artificial intelligence.