Learning and Decisions in a Data Driven, AI World

tay-ai-twitter-bot-mlmThe world is undergoing a significant change in how decisions are made and implemented, and, processes are completed. Historically, decisions were influenced by factors such as experience, organizational politics, external realities, priorities, constraints, risk, and education. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the internet of things producing a deluge of real time data, real time metrics, virtual teams, and, bots (software)  that can perform processes on our behalf, are we witnessing the end of organizational decision making involving insights (drawn from experience), creativity, and innovation? Is it possible we will see a day in which bots make and implement all business decisions?

In my conversations with MBA students in a wide variety of industries the impact of technology on decision making is a keen topic of interest.  Since AI hasn’t taken over decision making yet, decision making is evolving to merge domain theories (for example, marketing or finance theories and concepts), insights drawn from experience, real time data, humanistic perspectives along with social good priorities such as ethics and the environment.

Perhaps it’s the mash up of theories, data and experience that leads to creativity and innovation? For many people, they need to form a system level understanding of how data, theories and experience along with implementation realities interact as a foundation for making their insights, observations and conclusions. In other words, they need a deep or “gut” level understanding before their mind has that desired creative burst resulting in an insight. This gut level understanding can be derived in a variety of ways, for example, learning many different theories, ideas and perspectives or investigating problems and solutions that are done in other fields, for example, accountants learning about the issues and solutions that lawyers have. Another way is through structured business cases. Cases are time compressed experiences but have a limitation in that they tend to have only one decision point and not a series of integrated decision points where the choice of one decision impacts the possibilities of the next decision. However, simulations do have this potential, in addition, simulations can combine the humanistic and people issues in the decision environment. Creating such simulations is an area of interest of mine and why I co-founded experientialsimulations.com as a mechanism to give students that “gut” level of understanding of topics such as project management and entrepreneurship. Until the day that we need to pay homage to our robot overlords, I see a continuing potential for human creativity derived from mashing data, theories and experience gained from real world and simulated activities.

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