The coverage of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has been enormous in the last year, and much of it has been about the promise of AI for the future and about issues in its current state. In this article I have listed some resources that I believe will help readers get started on the journey toward more fully understanding the technology and its applications to the field of learning and development.
That is not going to be a short trip. My belief is that this is critical professional knowledge, and as such deserves attention in any L&D professional's lifelong learning plan. That is true whether your career is just beginning or already long.
AI is much of what you will be learning to use effectively for the rest of your career, as much as anything you ever learned about instructional design and development.
Why you need to start learning about AI now
There is a lot to learn about AI already. Many of the software applications you may be using now incorporate features that are limited uses of AI. The more you take the time to discover those features and how to use them, the more you will benefit.
There is more to come. Learning about AI is like the proverbial "taking a sip from a firehose." Pay attention to the actual leaders in the technology, not so much to sensational media accounts. The speed of change in the AI field is accelerating, and even today it is hard to keep up. It is also important to understand the ethics involved in this field. The differences are profound between the ways that users of the applications think about AI, and the ways that the technology leaders, business leaders, and government leaders see and may apply AI. Those ways are not necessarily compatible.
I will start by recommending interviews with three of the people who are shaping the technology.
Interviews: Videos and transcripts
A quick way to understand the way that the technology leaders understand the design and use of AI is to listen to or view interview podcasts. I believe these podcasts are the most insightful.
Ezra Klein Interviews
These are available online from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and an RSS feed on Simplecast. Look for The Ezra Klein Show, and then search for interviews with Gary Marcus and Brian Christian. Ezra provides video and audio recordings, and transcripts. I have not provided links to these—I hope this will help you avoid paywalls. Unfortunately Ezra's podcasts are not available for free download.
- Interview with Gary Marcus: Gary is a scientist and a leading voice in artificial intelligence. In this interview Gary provides thoughtful insights about the road we are on in development of AI.
- Interview with Brian Christian: Brian Christian is an American non-fiction author, programmer, and researcher. He has written three books about the human implications of computer science. Brian provides help with understanding key technical and moral considerations in AI.
Greylock interview with OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. While he and Gary Marcus agree about many aspects of AI, Sam also provides thoughtful insights and advocates a different road from the one Gary describes.
Books: Fundamentals from key AI leaders
Books take more time than podcasts, but they are much deeper in their treatment. You can find these three as Kindle, Audible, and print editions. I recommend using Readwise to make and organize highlights in the Kindle versions, and your favorite note taking application for Audible or actual books.
Gary Marcus, Rebooting AI
Brian Christian, The Alignment Problem
Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan, AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future
Companies that are leading research in 2023 and two people to follow online
- DeepMind (Demis Hassabis, founder and CEO of DeepMind)
- Google (The Google Brain team)
- OpenAI (Follow to keep up with emergent traits)
- Microsoft (Incorporating AI in their products in ways that most users don't realize)
- Meta (Yan LeCun, Meta's chief AI scientist)
Experimenting with AI
You can try out GPT3 on the OpenAI Playground. As of the time I am writing this article, OpenAI allows free personal use. You would be well-advised not to use it in a way that would risk revealing your employer’s trade secrets and confidential business plans.
Learning Guild articles and resources
Here are three recent articles in Learning Solutions that offer additional insights. There will be more in the future, and AI will be a topic in Learning Guild conferences.
Juan Naranjo, “3 Trends That May Unlock AI’s Potential for L&D in 2023” (1/19/2023)
Markus Bernhardt, Clark Quinn, “How ChatGPT3 Impacts the Future of L&D in an AI World” (1/9/2023)
Markus Bernhardt, “How ‘Responsible AI’ Is Ethically Shaping Our Future” (11/14/2022)
It's going to be a fascinating journey. I hope you agree.