Blog Post

AI in learning: Reflecting on 2023 and looking ahead to 2024

Cornerstone Editors

It has been a monumental year for AI, with rapid advances introducing new opportunities and challenges across the working world. As AI continues to develop at a rapid pace, it can be easy to keep looking at the future, but it is also important to step back and take the time to reflect on just how much the technology has evolved over the past twelve months.


Earlier this month, Marc Ramos, Chief Learning Officer at Cornerstone and Meredith Wellard, VP Group Talent Acquisition, Learning and Growth at DHL, joined a webinar entitled 'AI in Learning: Reflecting on 2023 and Beyond'. In a free-flowing discussion moderated by Claire Doody, the three discussed AI's rapid advances over the past year, explored how the technology is shaping HR leadership and projected how AI might continue to transform learning into the future. Here's a breakdown of the key takeaways.


We are still in AI's adolescence

Despite the speed of AI adoption, it's critical to remember that we're still in the early stages of AI possibilities. As Marc commented in the webinar, "Today's AI is the worst AI you will ever use." It would be misguided to dismiss AI in its current iteration. Marc added that while it's too early to see "perfection," writing off AI can hold you back from leveraging the significant number of capabilities that can result in a positive business impact today.


While AI isn't a new concept, it's a technology that has been a core part of Cornerstone's business for over a decade. What is new, Meredith states, is how AI is "now generating content and data in a meaningful way, with further personalization and customization that ensures people are getting experiences that are more relevant to them than ever before."

Navigating language barriers with AI

The conversation then developed into the current use cases of AI. Meredith remarked on how leveraging technology remarkably enhances the localization process, adding, "We used to have to spend three months localizing documents — today, it can be done in 25 mins."


The ability to translate at speed is a familiar concept, but the panel discussed how AI can now consider the nuances of localizing for different regions. Meredith adds, "Beyond the language, it's about the visuals, the stories and the right tone, making employees feel valued. Generative AI has significantly enhanced this."


Generative AI platforms such as ChatGPT, with capabilities like text generation, image creation and speech-to-text transcription, can open up the accessibility of learning materials by delivering localized content at a greater speed than ever before.


Recognizing the bias of data and humans


The topic of bias in AI systems has been a consistent part of the debate surrounding the use of technology, but Marc and Meredith were keen to stress this is a human issue as much as it is a data one. As Marc stated, it's vital to "recognize that it was human beings who fed into these data sources" and that it was essential to "never accept the first prompt as absolute." A well-managed AI has no more innate bias than the humans working on it and the data it's built upon.


Suppose the end goal is to have an AI that is morally aware and understands the context of the situation. In that case, Meredith adds, organizations must be "open and transparent and normalize that there is room to grow, so we are not operating with fear."


AI as a learning enhancement


The webinar clarified that both Marc and Meredith believe that AI has changed how HR leaders work and completely overhauled how they can support the organization. As Meredith stated, "It is a renaissance period for HR. For every challenge we have around talent today, there is a solution AI provides, whether it is faster to market times, faster talent interventions or more visibility on the data we have always had but previously couldn't access."


The panel discussed how AI presents a considerable change for leaders, introducing a higher degree of transparency, personalization and visibility to the workforce. Marc added that AI-powered products such as Cornerstone's Opportunity Marketplace "enhance transparency and skillset identification, helping employees find opportunities they previously were not aware of, and force better conversations between the employer and employee." It's increasingly clear that the workforce demands greater guidance and visibility of career opportunities. AI can be a bridge that drives better conversation between the employer and the employee.

The dichotomy of fear and opportunity


AI will continue to drive conversation and divide opinion, but Marc and Meredith remain optimistic that the technology is an opportunity more than a threat in many ways. "Like any great change, it can be scary," Meredith commented, "but we must be helping people through this change and show them how AI can be a great enabler for their needs."


With the technology being so fresh, Marc added that feeling a little lost is normal. "It's almost like a pendulum swinging between the fear of job replacement and the excitement over the surprise of AI's impact. Now, we are beginning to see that pendulum settle in the middle as more and more people begin to understand the practicalities of the technology."


HR leaders must maintain a thoughtful, balanced perspective as AI continues its rapid growth. Rather than reacting with hype or fear, learning leaders must analyze the capabilities pragmatically, ethically govern data and systems, and focus on AI's actual business impact.


Watch the on-demand webinar here.

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