Can Smart Tech Be Too Smart?

Technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) potentially can have a seismic effect on both the workforce and training and development.

Earlier this year, my husband and I installed a smart thermostat that allows us to control the heat and central air conditioning in our house through our smartphones. The technology “learns” our patterns and automatically adjusts the temperature based on the time of day and the presence of our smartphones. The thermostat is so smart, it knows when we both leave the house based on the absence of our smartphones and adjusts the AC accordingly to save us money. This is great in theory—except for the fact that it got a bit toasty for our two long-haired dachshunds when we were out at a Mets game one Sunday in July. We came home and found the house at 80-plus degrees, meaning Puff and Oscar truly were “hot dogs” that day!

That same smart thermostat also can be controlled by the Google Hub, along with lights, a video doorbell, house alarm, and more. I’m waiting for the day it can cook me dinner! That said, the increasing sophistication of technology—particularly artificial intelligence (AI)—comes with a price: the potential loss of privacy and ability to think for ourselves. Amazon, for example, constantly suggests things I might be interested in—I’m really not, but then I start thinking maybe I should be since Amazon supposedly knows me better than I know myself!

I recently read an article about how people clicked more on marketing copy for Chase Bank written by AI than by humans (Newsday, August 1, 2019). That is not something an editor or copy writer wants to hear!

What this means is technology such as AI potentially can have a seismic effect on both the workforce and training and development. Earlier this year, KPMG announced its predictions for 2019’s top 5 jobs in artificial intelligence. One of them is AI ethicist, with the firm noting: “As ethical and social implications of AI continue to unfold, companies may need to create new jobs tasked with the critical responsibility of establishing AI frameworks that uphold company standards and codes of ethics.”

Our cover story, “AI or Sci-Fi?” looks at some current and future ways AI is being utilized in the workforce and training in industries such as health care, retail, and trucking. We continue this issue’s technology focus with a special section on Games & Simulations and a look at the pros and cons of housing corporate training videos on YouTube.

Since this column is all about smart stuff, it is the perfect place to congratulate our Lori Gardner on her well-deserved promotion this month from associate publisher to publisher. Those of you who have met Lori know her bubbly personality and sunny smile light up every room she enters. If you have not yet met Lori, please do drop her a line and say hello at lori@trainingmag.com.

Better yet, meet Lori in person and continue this “smart” conversation with your peers at our Training 2020 Conference & Expo (www.trainingconference.com) February 24-26, 2020, in Orlando, FL. We’ll see you there!

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