How Leaders Can Help Close the AI Education Gap


Interim CEO of Hyperscience, Charlie Newark-French, explains how AI can benefit enterprises and how organizations can educate their employees on the value of AI or the risk of being left behind. Charlie further outlines what successful education of AI adoption looks like.

A radical step forward in technology has occurred over the last few years, and in the next few years, we will see how these technological developments get used. We’ve seen the world become captivated by AI-generated avatars of themselves using Lensa, users writing poems and having conversations with ChatGPT, and others leveraging DALLE-2 to create works of art. 

While AI and machine learning are increasingly getting into society’s hands, enterprise growth and adoption are similarly reaching new highs every month. Gartner forecastsOpens a new window worldwide AI software spending will be over $60 billion this year, increasing at over 20% YoY. 

Today’s enterprises innovate various paths to augment humans with technology, increasing efficiency and accuracy and decreasing employees’ time on manual, repetitive tasks. Interactions with AI won’t stop here. The expectations to navigate AI adoption are growing as rapidly as workforce expectations and the need to train employees to work alongside the technology. Helping employees understand AI better is a critical first step to shifting their perspective of the technology from a job replacer to a job enhancer. 

Changing the Perception of AI 

One would think that the growing use of AI would correlate with increased understanding and knowledge surrounding it, but that isn’t always the case. Misconceptions remain on what automation in the workplace looks like, with 18% of consumersOpens a new window believing automation is a robot that can do human things and 14% believing it is a technology existing solely to replace people. The latter has been feared for a while now—a prediction tossed around for over 100 years. Every time that prediction rears its head, jobs evolve and change, but more jobs and work are created in parallel. 

Despite the natural ebb and flow of the global economy, the job market has only seen increasing participants over time. In the last 30 years alone, the U.S. has realized a 30% increase in its workforce, growing from ~100 million to ~130 million employees—and this trend will only continue. Even now, as we face a looming recession, there is a shortage of employees in most industries, with more work to be done than people available. 

Digital transformation is a journey and not a single destination. Embracing AI will take more than implementing new software at organizations; it will require proper change management to create positive employee sentiment and understand how it can help alleviate the day-to-day administrative tasks. It will also require us to stop thinking that “robots will replace humans at work” and “robots will augment humans at work.” 

While the persistent perception that AI will take jobs won’t go away overnight, one thing is clear: employees who use AI will replace those who don’t. An article in The New York Times by Farhad Manjoo, “In the Battle With Robots, Human Workers Are WinningOpens a new window ,” recently spoke about this change in sentiment. Manjoo mentioned that software and machines would back up human work but can not replace it, and this is best summed up with this line: “Radiologists who use A.I. will replace radiologists who don’t.” 

Technology can detect common diseases better than the best radiologists, and healthcare organizations and doctors embracing this software will see more business than those that don’t. This highlights one of the most promising uses of enterprise AI involving the workforce in a human-in-the-loop capacity. 

The human-in-the-loop approach allows employees to work in tandem with AI, providing an excellent gateway to understanding how it works. The education component ensures employees can step in and course-correct only when needed and equips them with the necessary knowledge to utilize AI correctly. Similar to the internet, the idea that new software will take over jobs and make human interaction obsolete is incorrect. Instead, it will likely be a pervasive software requiring all employees to have baseline knowledge. 

See More: AI Adoption Will Grow Ten-fold by 2030, Dominated by Use in IoT

Education Is the Critical First Step

According to a recent reportOpens a new window , 65% of consumers believe adopting automation in the workplace is a good idea, with 85% being interested in automation technology that reduces manual tasks to focus on higher-value tasks. While certain industries, like healthcare and the public sector, have increased the perception of the value automation can bring, the insurance and financial services sectors saw no change year-over-year. Without education in these industries, organizations will struggle to convey the value and impact automation will bring their employees. 

In sectors such as the insurance industry, employees spend hours a day sifting through paperwork backlogs, preventing them from diving into tasks that ultimately benefit their clients. Leaders must highlight how employees can apply AI to sort through the paperwork at scale for processes like credit checks and bank statement evaluations to determine insurance liability – allowing it to feed data back to the employee to make the final decision. When employees embrace AI as a partner, they can use it for everyday tasks, paving the way for increased enthusiasm for learning new skill sets.

Even though certain industries experienced positive year-over-year improvements in understanding AI’s benefits, there is always room for improvement. For example, when tax season rolls around, government employees tend to drown in sorting through paperwork. When implementing automation into the process, everyone wins. Employees spend less time focusing on mundane tasks, and citizens will see a quicker timeline for tax returns. When organizations take the time to communicate the ways AI will improve processes and jobs thoroughly, consumer sentiment will become open to integrating it into more aspects of life. 

See More: Are You Ready for the AI Economy?

What Will Successful Education Look Like?

AI will eventually be as widespread as the internet. But just like the internet, it will not require every worker to have an expert understanding of every facet of automation. Leveraging any new technology in an organization involves employee understanding of day-to-day use of it, as well as alignment on the short and long-term benefits it will bring. 

Increasingly, as more of today’s workforce understands that human and machine collaboration is the path forward, enterprises will be able to increase labor productivity and outcomes. Those looking to embrace technology innovation will be a step ahead of competitors, even more so when the workforce understands how the technology works with—and for—them. When organizations can address and correct preconceived notions and retrain employees on AI’s technical and ethical aspects, they ultimately maximize their long-term ROI and opportunity for success. 

How can industries provide continuing education to prove its value and grow employees’ understanding of successful adoption? Let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .

Image Source: Shutterstock