Editorial: AI Learns Something New Every Day. Shouldn’t We? | AIChE

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Editorial: AI Learns Something New Every Day. Shouldn’t We?

May
2021

imagesMachine learning — a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed — has been harnessed for a wide variety of applications, including email filtering, financial market analysis, and medical diagnostics, among many others. (See the Update article on pp. 10–11, for an example.) Machine learning algorithms can take several approaches, depending on the data they receive and task they are intended to perform. However, all algorithms make generalizations based on their previous experience to perform accurately on new, unseen tasks. In other words, they are able to learn.

Soon, AI will impact the way humans learn. The article by Coral Siminovich, “Modernize Training with AI, XR, and Microlearning,” (pp. 44–47) explains how incorporating AI into operator training programs can improve worker performance and safety. An AI-based education system can draw on large subsets of data to identify gaps in trainee knowledge and automatically adapt the content to fill those gaps. Such personalization will help deliver the right training to the right worker, in small easy-to-learn nuggets. I find it fascinating that AI algorithms — which themselves are continuously learning and improving — will help us to continuously learn and improve.

While AI represents the future of learning, there are many futuristic digital learning platforms (that don’t necessarily harness the power of AI just yet) that are worth checking out today. Take the Center for Chemical Process Safety’s (CCPS’s) Safety and Chemical Engineering Education (SAChE) certificate program, for example. SAChE consists of dozens of interactive process safety learning modules that are free for students, professors, and schools. Since 2015, more than 50,000 individuals have taken SAChE courses.

In the highly competitive arena of at-home workouts, there are hundreds of digital learning platforms to choose from. I gifted myself a Peloton digital subscription for the new year as an attempt to adhere to my resolution of exercising more frequently. Although I don’t own a Peloton bike, the digital subscription has thousands of yoga, strength training, and running classes to get you into shape. The level of instruction of the many guided yoga workouts is head and shoulders above what I would typically receive at my local gym, and the subscription is much less expensive than my city’s yoga boutiques.

Another online learning platform that has become hugely popular, but I haven’t yet tried, is MasterClass. This platform offers 2–5-hr online classes on just about any subject taught by celebrities and experts in their respective crafts. You can take a singing class taught by Christina Aguilera, learn to write comedy with Steve Martin, and listen to Bob Iger speak about leadership and business strategy. Even if you aren’t a fan of these celebrities, the platform offers over 100 different classes to choose from, and you have to admit it’s a great way to get people interested in improving themselves.

As AI becomes more integrated with our work, research, and daily lives, such digital learning platforms will become even smarter and more helpful in the near future. However, if you want to learn a new skill, pick up a workout routine, or become proficient in a subject, now is a great time to start.

Emily Petruzzelli, Editor-in-Chief

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