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VIEWPOINT: AI and learning culture

Artificial intelligence (AI) has already changed the way that we operate in our lives and businesses to a great degree and will continue to do so exponentially into the future. How will this ‘machine learning’ translate into our own learning and workplace culture?

In 1999 Salzberger-Wittenberg, Williams and Osbourne wrote an interesting piece on human learning. They stated: ‘Real learning ability and discovery can only take place when a state of not knowing can be borne long enough to enable all the data gathered by the senses to be taken in and explored until some meaningful pattern emerges. If we are to understand other human beings, we have to start from a state of not knowing, an interest about finding out by observing, listening and being receptive to the communications conveyed by others to us, both verbally and non-verbally.’

Key elements of learning and culture are therefore grounded in the sensory and emotional connections that we as humans make in the context of life and work. In contrast, the algorithm learning that machines and computers perform, lack the insight into basic intrinsic needs of humans, and do include human biases through programming.

I attended a talk on a company using AI in recruitment which noted that the selection process was reduced from four months to two weeks (with thousands of applications) at which time the AI delivered its shortlist of candidates. The shortlisted candidates then attended an assessment centre and a final selection for employment offers was made thereafter (by humans!). It seems inconceivable that there was no human interaction in selection prior to the final round. I wonder about the ‘lost’ candidates in the AI process that might have been better suited to the company or what unfortunate biases may have been input into the algorithms that delivered the shortlisted candidates. The company was satisfied with the final outcome of ‘people’ in the room. From a learning and cultural perspective for the organisation and the AI specialists, it would be interesting to know how the learning from the machines could be deconstructed and compared to a current ‘human’ process and whether the end results would have differed significantly.

AI provides business with opportunities to deliver beyond expectations, and in the process the workforce will need to shift and become complementary to this new way of working and learning. From a cultural perspective, we need to ensure that our basic needs for inclusion, control and affection as humans are met and emotional connections are maintained. This will enable humans to continue learning and navigating the shifting organisational culture of the workplace alongside machines.


For AI to enhance human interaction, we should be seeking more positive potential from this inevitability. Imagine if AI could:

DELIVER LEARNING relevant to an individual’s emotional state, straight after an interaction or meeting with variable personalities in that organisation

DELIVER TARGETED news in organisations that would promote good corporate citizenship and flag instances that could see humans falling short

DELIVER PATTERNS of biases  in our society and organisations and feedback the instances

DELIVER STAFF to our organisations who fill the skills and diversity gaps that we lack

The possibilities are endless.

Learning & Development Professional

Paolo Giuricich CA(SA) is founder and owner of Smart EQ