Dipping a Toe into the AI Pool

AI tools are becoming ubiquitous, but most can’t yet deliver the level of detail and various unique aspects of the work that L&D professionals are providing learning content about.

We now have artificial intelligence (AI) tools to use. Does it mean we no longer have to work a gazillion hours again? The answer to that is “No” or “It depends.”

Sure, there are many of these tools hitting our in-boxes every week. But, not so fast. They are not the robots we dreamed of as kids. They would be ubiquitous. “Rosey” would live in to handle the housework, manage the household, and entertain the kids. (Rosey is very late! And don’t get me started on the fact that we still have no flying cars…) At work, there would be no shortage of jobs that could be handled simply by pressing a button or talking into a microphone. (Who remembers George Jetson, Spacely Sprockets, and Cogswell Engineering?)

A “No” response is due to the fact that the tools aren’t completely there yet. They are new and don’t have the historic references, “experiences,” or situational awareness that are needed to return the robust responses with the nuance sought. Nor can they yet deliver the level of detail and various unique aspects of the work that you’re providing learning content about.

“It depends”—like so many things in daily life, especially at work, the responses provided by the AI tool are only as good as the prompts you write into it, the level of detail you can provide, etc. Most (all?) of what we do involves levels of complexity and experience to be successful.

2 Questions to Ponder

  • Are we 100 percent certain there is no issue with theft of others’ work or plagiarism? According to a court case filed in early 2023, the response to this question is “It depends.” Read more.
  • Do you know whether guardrails exist in your preferred tool or platform to prevent theft? Read more.

Your Responsibility

Remember when Google Images became a thing? And everyone was grabbing images from there as if that were an OK thing to do? (It isn’t.) Sure, you can use it for ideas, as a memory jogger, and reference. But it is not a free image selection tool for your life, your work materials, and the learning content you build. It is safe to say that nearly everything that appears in Google Images requires at least some attribution—and more likely isn’t there to be taken without permission.

It is still your responsibility to determine whether what you’ve asked an AI tool to generate for you is legal to use as is, needs attribution, may only be used with permission, is protected by one or more of the Creative Commons licenses and must be used according to the CC guidance provided (https://creativecommons.org), or is protected by U.S. copyright law(s) and may not be used at all.

Customize the Content

When using an AI generator to write for you, especially while you and the tool get to know each other, the tool likely will generate bland, general, and generic content. Use what is returned as a guide, but customize it to make the content your own.

No or low budget? One-person department? Let AI help you get a strong start on things. AI may be used to generate ideas inexpensively—and possibly still for free. Use AI to help you bust out of usual ways of writing, designing, crafting layouts, etc.

Parting thought: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you (always) should.”

Dawn J Mahoney, CPTD
Dawn J. Mahoney, CPTD, is the program content manager for Training magazine. She also owns Learning in The White Space LLC, a freelance talent development (“training”) and instructional design consultancy. She is passionate about developing people through better training, better instructional design, and better dialog. E-mail her at: dawn@trainingmag.com.