Getting to the future of KM
The place for AI
But such a path has challenges. At heart, the most obvious is that the AI has learned from a human, or through observing how humans work, what they do, how they approach a task, and how they make a decision. In short, AI’s knowledge is based upon historical actions. But humans live in the real world where things change and surprises are always around the corner. This is where the “subtle judgments, and creative problem-solving” of McKinsey’s definition come into play. Subtle judgments regarding hiring decisions are (hopefully) very different in modern-day America than in the 1950s. Creativity comes from the requirement to solve problems; it often happens when we challenge the status quo. Both of these situations are often way beyond the scope and ability of AI and should remain so. Subtle judgments about whether a captured letter is an L or an I are acceptable in the hands of an AI-powered OCR system. But judgments regarding my future and quality of life are not. It may come as a surprise, but even today’s powerful deep-learning-powered OCR, which is leaps and bounds ahead of earlier OCR systems, is not 100% accurate. Humans make mistakes, just as AI, but we are, or at least should be, held responsible for them.
Business analysts like to say that you can’t create the future “to be” state until you understand the current “as is” state. AI is rapidly changing the technology of KM, and it is providing us with opportunities to manage and actively enable knowledge in ways we could previously only dream of. But that knowledge is the fuel that smart humans need to help them make subtle judgments and creatively solve problems. Subtlety and creativity keep the wheels turning, make every day interesting, and keep us engaged and empowered—that is our “as is” state. AI can and does do a good job of assisting and even augmenting knowledge work, but our “to be” state should not take the human element—however flawed—from the work. AI needs to know its place, and most knowledge workers are clear on that. But not every employer or technology company is on the same page.