Artificial Intelligence is the area of IT that attempts to emulate mental processes considered uniquely human. We are accustomed to thinking of machines as objects that precisely perform the operations for which they were programmed. However, great strides have been made in recent years and we are now able to create machines that learn from a context, the real world and even the internet. Nowadays, so-called artificial neural networks are used to identify recurring patterns in fraud, in order to identify potentially illegal financial transactions. In medicine, expert systems are capable of prescribing specialist and personalised treatment for individual problems.

How can we non-experts become involved in these projects? What is the right approach to this discipline?

Research in Artificial Intelligence is always exploring theories and techniques to create machines that emulate the activities, abilities and typical thoughts of the human mind. Every intelligent system is designed around a given context and created for a specific use. So, unlike most technology projects, when you want to apply Artificial Intelligence to your own set of circumstances, you must not search for the software you wish to use, but rather the experts, companies and research centres that need to be engaged and involved. Private companies can come into contact with these persons and entities and explore potential opportunities to work together.

Why should someone involved in training and E-Learning be interested in working with experts in artificial intelligence?

In recent years, these types of studies have brought to light a wide variety of applications in the field of training and education, such as intelligent tutors, systems that automatically customise content for each individual learner and Big Data learning analysis platforms. What are intelligent tutors? Intelligent tutors try to replicate the actions of a human teacher, inviting the learner to carry out activities or providing feedback during practical activities to facilitate learning. Intelligent tutors are typically domain-specific and designed to assist in the learning of a particular topic. Another area of e-learning in which there are many uses is semantic analysis, which is the ability to automatically extract concepts and meanings from a text. Intelligent agents capable of semantically analysing text, creating multiple choice quizzes and providing feedback on answers. Semantic analysis is required for the classification and automatic tagging of training content, which is useful when there is access to a large amount of resources. The ability to understand the meaning of thousands of articles and documents contained in an archive opens the way for systems that can recommend the right content to the right person at the right time. A final application worth mentioning is the statistical analysis of big data, i.e. the analysis of huge amounts of data that is not always organised in a structured way. There are an increasing number of systems capable of analysing reports, training traces and identifying significant patterns. Imagine a future in which platforms analyse user behaviour and are then able to tell us which training activities were most effective, which activities saw more greater participant focus and, therefore, where we can improve. It is important for non-experts in companies to remain in touch with those in the field of Artificial Intelligence so that they can work together to imagine potential uses. Research centres are focussed on identifying models to emulate human mental processes and are always looking for practical uses on the market. This topic was discussed in posterLab no. 34: “Artificial intelligence and big data, horizons for e-learning”. Marco Amicucci

written by: Marco Amicucci , 18 January 2017

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