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World first conference agenda focuses on AI’s positive potential for the worlds of work and business – 15 Sept 2016

Programme for the first Social Robotics & AI conference is published

The programme for the first Social Robotics & AI conference delivers on its promise to highlight the positive impact of emerging technologies on the worlds of work and business.

The conference’s busy schedule of discussions, demonstrations, debates and presentations will investigate how artificial intelligence can improve UK business competitiveness by boosting productivity, powering innovation and augmenting the capabilities of the human workforce.  The aim, says conference chairman Anton Fishman, is “to encourage collaboration between scientists, academics, business leaders and the builders of human capital.  By doing so we hope to ensure UK plc gets the best possible advantage from the AI-driven technology revolution that’s gathering pace worldwide.”

Amongst the high-profile line-up of speakers and contributors are:

  • Gary Kasparov, the chess champion that battled IBM’s Deep Blue, who demonstrates how artificial intelligence can liberate human creativity.
  • Tech philosopher Tom Chatfield who asks, can smart machines make us more human?
  • Stewart Bromley, CTO of Atom Bank, describes how he’s using AI to deliver ‘telepathic banking’ to UK consumers.
  • Rod Willmott, Innovation Director at LV= Insurance describes the accelerated innovation processes that are bringing AI to the heart of this leading insurer.
  • Virginie Vast, Head of Cognitive Procurement and Digital Sourcing for Vodafone Procurement Company, reveals how AI is re-creating the supply chain.
  • Nicola Millard, BT futurologist, investigates the impact of AI on customer experience.
  • Prof Alan Winfield of Bristol Robotics Laboratory outlines a governance framework for AI in business.
  • Peter Waggett and Paul Chong of IBM showcase the capabilities of WATSON and describe new innovations in neuromorphic computing.
  • Gorkan Ahmetoglu, Lecturer in Business Psychology at University College London, investigates the role of people in an AI-triggered entrepreneurial revolution
  • Prof Nigel Crook, Head of Computing and Communication Technologies at Oxford Brookes University describes the future of human-robot collaboration

Also on the agenda:

  • AI-in-Action: demonstrations of AI and robotics applications. An opportunity to meet the innovators, the developers, the creators and their creations.
  • AI-Upstarts: A leading UK venture capitalist showcases three of the brightest new AI businesses and gives sound advice on backing winners and working with them.

The full Social Robotics & AI programme can be downloaded from www.socialroboticsai.com.

Social Robotics & AI is held on 15 September in association with the Association for Business Psychology and hosted by Oxford Brookes University. Guests are invited to arrive the day before for an evening reception and the launch of AI-in-Action.  It is supported by commercial partners including the global IT services business, HCL, and the business services group, Ember.  Kalyan Kumar, Executive VP, CTO-CIO and Digital of HCL says; “The combination of AI and automation has the power to transform business efficiency, employee productivity, customer experience and business agility. We’re partnering with Social Robotics & AI because it promises to get beyond the rhetoric and nervousness so often associated with AI and focus on positive partnership between humans and machines.”

NOTES FOR EDITORS

About the Association of Business Psychology

The Association for Business Psychology (ABP) was established in 2000 to help its members to improve relationships between people and the organisations they work in, based on evidence-based understanding of human behaviour.  Its 700 strong membership includes practicing business psychologists, students and academics active in this field, HR, learning, resourcing and operational design practitioners as well as executive managers with an interest in how psychology shapes them and their ability to lead and engage their people.

http://www.theabp.org.uk

 

About Oxford Brookes University

Oxford Brookes University is a premier learning and teaching institution with an outstanding research record and tradition of academic excellence.  Its Department of Computing and Communications Technologies has a strong research presence at home and abroad; 75% of its research – including that on AI and social robotics – is internationally recognised and 8% acknowledged to be world leading. Key research themes include enabling robots to see and understand the world around them (Computer Vision), improving the way in which humans interact with robots (Human-robot Interaction and Collaboration), enabling robots to learn about themselves and their environment (Machine Learning) and developing biologically inspired robots. There is an emphasis on developing robots that are socially aware and emotionally intelligent enabling them to show empathy and build trust with their human collaborators.

http://www.brookes.ac.uk

For more information

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Chris Wood                                                                             Annie Garthwaite

T: 44 (0) 7775 604011                                                           T:  44 (0)1746 764909

E: chris@cbm.media                                                            E:  annie@anniegarthwaite.com

 

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Engaging learners in a digitally connected age

A Panel Discussion chaired by Nicola Strong

At the recent Employee Engagement Summit in London in April 2016, I asked three learning innovators in employee engagement to debate with the audience.

My panellists included:

  • Rory Lawson (Kineo) Solutions Consultant focused on digital and blended learning;
  • Perry Timms (CIPD, Zoo Media) our resident HR Futurist who wants a balance between established learning practices and disruptive forward thinking
  • Iain Trundle (Barclays) who has taken a fresh look at connecting 135,000 employees to 170 learning programmes in over 45 countries. 

We decided to meet up before the event and agree some questions that we thought were worthy of debate:  

  1. Which digital trends are driving engagement in workplace learning in your organisations?
  2. In engaging learners, how do we ensure a balance between established learning practices and disruptive forward thinking?
  3. How do you engage, connect and deliver learning to a global workforce?

Delightfully, the audience brought new thinking to our dialogue and offered issues and ideas. Perry Timms Blog post energetically highlights some of the key thinking that came from the debate. And offers further thinking to take this forward. 

 

Perry Timms

 PT profile

Described by CIPD CEO Peter Cheese as “The HR Futurist”, he is a social HR Practitioner; voted a top 10 blogger in International and UK magazines.  Perry is Adviser to the CIPD on Social Media & Engagement, built the Institute’s first MOOC “Working Digitally: Social Media and HR” and was a Guide for the CIPD/MiX HR Hackathon.

Perry runs his own enterprise – PTHR  – alongside that of being Director – People & Learning at fast-growing creative digital agency Media Zoo. Perry is aiming to transform learning & work through use of social technologies; innovation as usual; more soulful leadership; and being an always-on learner for a range of clients in all sectors.

Perry is an international and TEDx speaker on HR and the future of work, authored the e-book “HR 2025” and writes for a range of online HR and Work publications and journals and at the end of 2015 was asked to join IBM’s Future of Work programme.

 

Iain Trundle

 Iain Trundle

Group Head of Learning Channels, Barclays

Iain has successfully delivered many platforms, tools and programmes, but considers the latest  he’s been working on at Barclays the most exciting initiative yet.

It’s transforming the way learning is approached within Barclays through the use of a solution that sparks interest and curiosity of employees, a multi-channel, resource-based approach to learning.

 

Rory Lawson

Rory Lawson

Account Director, City & Guilds Kineo

Rory has a passion for design and technology, delivering highly creative design concepts and solutions that are blended or purely digital, and provides consultancy to some of the world’s leading brands. He has a proven ability to manage and drive large scale, international, digital learning projects, from Needs Analysis through to media production to delivery and assessment of high impact learning.

Engaging the social learner

Twitter chat – Held on 9 February 2016 17.30pm [GMT]  

Chat collaboration:  #aapchat and @nicolastrong 

 

Working with Andy Swann and Adelaida Manolescu from the great new enterprise called All About People that seeks to create amazing environments that “bring together the right people in the right places doing the right things” … at the right time.

Here is an introduction to our Twitter chat, Engaging the Social Learner with a link to the Storify summary.

As keen content developers and tech enabled organisations seek to understand the secret world of the unmotivated employee, the word “engagement” buzzes around like an annoying fly. A survey by Gallup last month announced that a consistent 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged by their job. Ouch.

Standing, now, with my fly swat of reflection, I wonder what we really mean by the word “engagement”… in the context of the social learner. In this case, I see a social learner is defined as someone who is using the broad range of web-based learning tools or artificially intelligent autonomous systems to learn something new.

Is learning engagement:

  • Counting clicks through theory
  • Tracking eye movement across a bite-size of learning
  • Testing a learner’s capacity to remember another methodology
  • Diverting the focus from the employee to measure performance by asking the end-user/customer to rate their level of satisfaction of the product or service?

At the Learning Technologies 2016 (LT16) this week, I decided to talk to as many people as I could and asked them the question:

what does your product or service really do to engage a learner? 

 

Jane Hart in her presentation on how to use Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) for social learning talks about creating an opportunity for collaboration “encouraging interactions, conversations, sharing and discussions to support and improve performance on the job.” Jane offered 10 ways you can use ESNs to increase engagement and she has kindly posted a summary of her slides on SlideShare:

Moving on to the next stand, I got talking to members of the Implementation Team at Fuse Universal. They explained one measure of engagement success they found helpful was to monitor the ease of access to the learning content by looking at the number of “views”. This was in addition to the standard requirements that the context is relevant, bitesized and supported by “community managers”. An interesting question emerged that I used as my first of four questions in my Twitter Chat #aapchat @nicolastrong.

Question 1. Are our social learners actually learning on-line?

At the next stand, Atticmedia, who are specialists in digital learning, they highlighted their successful live, i-Pad led, technology designed for the employees on the shop floor at Marks & Spencer. The Atticmedia Design Teams had drawn on their long history in education and animation to develop a sense of serious play in their learning tools. The M&S Way: delivering learning on the shop floor project placed the learning tools right into the hands of the employee as they were managing live issues and, quoting the Atticmedia website, to re-ignite the staff’s ‘passion for fashion’ .

 

Question 2. What is the most valuable measure of successful employee engagement in the workplace?

I was particularly interested to see a presentation by Rory Lawson (Account Director at City & Guilds Kineo) and Iain Trundle (Group head of learning channels, Barclays) on their award-winning global Barclays Colleague Curriculum launched last year. Some of the unenviable challenges included creating 170 programmes accessible to 135,000 employees in over 45 countries, across multiple devices (some in very remote locations), embedding Barclays’ values and behaviour. Not only that, this process had to maintain the highest and most secure standards. The final product achieved an impressive take-up in the first two days. A more detailed analysis can be found in the Human Resource Management International Digest.  The photo below show some of the highlights set out by Iain Trundle in his presentation.

 

Then, I decided to check out the Italdata/Sharper Analytics Stand. Italdata were talking about using data analytics to feedback and motivate the learner. Their demo took me through the first two modules KONSocial and KONit but the most interesting part for me was the third module, KONview. This module creates sets of visual analytics using machine learning to provide live feedback on learning progress, community engagement and learning community champions. The photo below shows the individual, illustrated with a blue dot, leading a learning community forum discussion.

 

Question 3. Does giving live feedback on a learner’s impact on a learning discussion increase engagement and learning?

The Team on the Skill Pill Stand talked about agency and the inclusion of the employee in designing their learning. They argued that engagement increased when the learning content was co-created. They had some wonderful examples – check out the website.

 

Question 4. Who should take responsibility for learning to improve the employees’ job performance, the organisation or the learner?

If you would like to see the results of the Twitter chat here is the link to the Storify version:

http://allaboutpeople.co/2016/02/10/engaging-social-learner-aapchat-summary-2/ 

 

Additional sensory experience

We have five senses. Or do we? It is highly likely that we have additional senses that we have not consciously been aware of in our normal lives. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, has gone much further than just asking the question. He has made things, gadgets, that allow us to check what new sensory data we can access and train the brain to use. For example, a vest that provides vibrations that reflect the emotional content of Twitter.

Take a look at his most recent TED Talk – expand your UMWELT!

Social HR: Policies for a Social Era

By Perry Timms, thought leader, HR Practitioner, Social Business Entrepreneur, Advisor to the CIPD on Social Media & Engagement and Visiting Fellow – Sheffield Hallam University

When was the last time you felt good about an HR Policy?

Social Media circa 2004 was largely a mystery.  Forward to 2007/08 and suddenly IT teams were being asked to block access to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.  EXCEPT for press teams and PR/Marketing types.  The advent of the iPhone changed all that and people at work didn’t need the technology that work was providing anymore to get on to the internet and social networking sites, they could use their smart phone.

So instead of simply banning access to this time-wasting technology, policies were crafted informing staff that employer-related posts were not to be entertained and that there was effectively a ban on sharing work-related information on their own personal social networking sites and platforms.  We had some high profile dismissals, cases of inappropriate and harassing behaviour and the likes.  Paris Brown of the Kent Police Commissioners fame being one such case.

Policies were seen as the catch-all for organisations to be able to dismiss, litigate or whatever against people who posted inappropriately.

It was almost seen to be cutting edge to have a social media policy.  Especially when added to with a Bring Your Own Device policy.

What was missing here was something pretty fundamental in a modern world: responsible adult behaviour and the compliant majority.  A social media policy was built for a catching a potential not silent micro-minority.

This also fails to recognise that people may even post positive things about the place they work so their friends could see they had a good boss, a terrific HR team and had a very decent experience at work.  See the recent tweet about tube rage which then resulted in the rager turning up for an interview with the person he was so rude to.  That went MASSIVELY viral.  That could equally happen to something positive and different about a workplace that does great things.

It is therefore my assertion that where people are overly concerned about a social media policy is because there’s something not quite right about the culture and that’s got nothing to do with social media in itself.  So banning the channel only masks the fractured culture.

Whether there’s blemishes in the company culture or not, my thinking here is, that in drafting a policy around use of social media let’s see something different.  In fact in all policies but particularly around social media.

Why not use scenarios or advocate activity you would LIKE TO SEE occurring on people’s social networks. For example:

“If you love our brand, we’d love you to share that with your followers and friends on social networks.  Only if you genuinely feel the pride, excitement and appreciation will it be sincere so please be wise about the facts, timing and impact you’d like to have by showing you and us in a positive light.

If you and your colleagues have achieved something marvellous, why not share that with your followers and the world?  It’s not about public accolades or medals.  It is about showing people who have helped you succeed know you care about their part in that and the world should hear about how good they all are.

We believe we’ll save money on expensive hiring processes if people are good advocates for us and help us attract the right kinds of people to apply for our jobs.  We’d love you to help us do that with posts about what it’s like to work here, how things are done and the benefits you get from your job with us.

If you don’t really feel like you want to celebrate your working with us, we’d understand if you’d rather keep it to personal conversations and not post online.”

…and then simply say,

“If you’re angry about the way you’re treated at work, it is better dealt with via an internal-only conversation.  There’s not much to gain for you or the company by going public with a rant. Only if we can’t reach some form of understanding will you find yourself frustrated enough to use social networks to share your issue.  Even then though, we’d rather you didn’t.”

I reckon the same could apply to a lot more HR policies.  They should be written in “towards” and positive language to encourage productive behaviours.  They should contain a small but powerful warning: if you want to be destructive and break our beliefs system then you do it and we will not allow you to get away with malevolent acts without recourse.  YET we recognise the majority of people won’t do this.

I’m reminded of FAVI – the engineering company featured in Frederic Laloux’s  Reinventing Organisations book.  There was a story of the store room being locked and a form filling process and delay in getting access to tools and materials.  So the CEO took the approach to leave it unlocked and the form filling was only to make sure stock was replenished.  People helped themselves.  Then someone stole a drill.  Instead of reverting to bureaucracy controls, the CEO simply put a flipchart easel by the door to the stores and a note that said

“By stealing you’re letting us all down but we won’t change the trust we have in everyone else.  If you needed a drill, you could just ask and we’d lend you the drill.”

The drill was returned soon and no more thefts recorded.

So I think it should be with social media and posts.

Rather than a preventative, child-locked, mistrusting frame to be enforced at the first opportunity, how about a policy that guides positive, useful and impactful actions?  That might just work.

HR that surprises people not frustrates them.

Why go social inside the firewall?

By Perry Timms, thought leader, HR Practitioner, Social Business Entrepreneur, Advisor to the CIPD on Social Media & Engagement and Visiting Fellow – Sheffield Hallam University

To decode this headline please read:

Social =  collaborative technologies

Firewall = the digital barrier to stop your company technology from cyber attacks

Social Media.  If you’ve read one story, blog or feature you’ve read a hundred before.  Yet we ARE still learning about the impact social and collaborative technologies are having on how we work and live.

So we still need to talk about it.  And there is something about the use of social media INSIDE an organisation that is still yet to take hold.  Some people have managed it brilliantly.  Many haven’t even attempted it yet.  Others have and it has failed – fuelling the thought that social is a fad and won’t catch on in the “real world”.  That failure isn’t a technology fail though – it’s a cultural, attitudinal and even skills failure.

Here’s WHY you might want to socialise internally.  Using a technology platform or more of course.  Yet it isn’t all about the technology.  It is about culture, attitudes and skills.

Reason 1.  We’re made to be social.

From our very first moments outside the womb, we develop the need for social bonding.  Why?  Because that’s how we – as a helpless newborn being – get food, water, warmth, shelter.  Work on production lines, via in-boxes, on call centres or serving customers from counters is only mildly social.  If at all social.  Much science of productivity is questioning this format for work.  800 repetitions of the same thing is pretty dull and machine like.  Yet we ask people to do it and be good at it.  All. Day. Long.  We could look more into the variables and what that does to our energy levels and cognition.

What IS proven is that oxytocin (the social bonding chemical in our brains) is a powerful driver of our behaviours.  We have a need for this social bond and that’s why we go stir crazy either stuck in an office, lab or shop floor on our own OR with people we’re not bonding with.  Indeed the “loneliness” chemical – interleukin – has been linked to heart failure and premature mortality.  Social literally keeps us alive longer.  It certainly energises us in the way dopamine – the laughter or happy chemical – also does.

Reason 2. Work needs collective intelligence.

There’s no such thing as an expert any more.  Why?  As soon as you think you know something, the fast paced modern world shakes it all about and things are different.

We are often now facing complex or even chaotic sets of problems to which there’s been no precedent set or answers made.  So we need ingenuity, ideas, insight and execution.  In the IT world, in order to get software right as first time as possible people code in pairs.  Not alone and then test, iterate as a duo.  Then release for fail-fast testing to then refine.  That’s why most software now works better than it used to and we don’t get “the computer system is down” on the end of the line.  Generally, it’s not a case of “too many cooks” it literally is a case of smells like team spirit.

There is absolutely no such thing as best practice.  There is though, wisdom of the crowd and the sharing of breakthrough solutions or fixes/work-arounds.  This can be prolifically and rapidly deployed using internal social networks where the popularity of helpful posts allows for detection and attention to be given rather than another email with the red exclamation of importance sat in an already cluttered inbox.

Reason 3.  Social is a leveller.

The chain of command, the decision making escalation and the cross-divisional politics are largely negated and navigated through using enterprise social networks.  Most people are on a level – there’s no hierarchy.  Whoever posts has the right to post whatever their position in the company.  If it’s right, it’ll gain attention and that person will have leadership, authority and credibility.  Meritocracy not autocracy.

One of the biggest delays and causes of unproductive work is the hierarchy and bottle-necks on decisions and sign off from busy executives.  Because they don’t have enough thinking time, they ask you to come up with a business case and cost it, do the ROI and the likes.  Once that’s done, they will sign it off as it at least looks like you’re considering a range of factors.

Yet on social, the system really will help you think it through and distribute the effort, input and decision thus avoiding bottleneck executive schedules.  Some companies insist now that executive sign-off is a thing of the past and ANYONE in the company can veto or endorse an idea.  It’s made for an agile and inclusive way that means people are behind new initiatives not puzzled by their appearance.  Alignment and fit come naturally and politics vaporise with this new level of understanding.

In summary

So 3 key reasons; individual energy; collective wisdom and smoother paths to progress means social media adoption internally isn’t a recipe for chaos.  It’s tapping a state of flow we’ve made less of than we should.  We have processes but they’re like playing a symphony in 50 short bursts not one continuous score.

Orchestras are made of virtuosos but also harmonic sections all working together to create the wall of sound.  Internal social networks are like inviting your people to join a chorus instead of sitting humming into their own personalised playlists.

Melodic work?  Sure.  The rhythm of collaborative productivity.  The sound of socialised success.

Animated learning

I have had great fun creating a simple dialogue using different animation tools. I think they provide engaging, accessible and entertaining clips of learning that can have a helpful impact on an ongoing plan for any level of learning.

Here is an example I have created using a simple web-based tool called xtranormal. I have decided to take a simple story of two robots trying to make sense and understand the learning styles of humans.

I was given a series of options with either one or two characters, a backdrop with a background sound. I could edit in the camera angles, expressions, gestures and pace into my dialogue using drag and drop.  This is the result from my first published experiment!

What would be your weekly message? Have a go at creating your own animation.

 As I discover more free animation tools I will add them to this page.

 

Learning: how do you embrace confusion?

I was delighted to find this 6 minute talk by Ramsey Musallam on his three rules to spark learning. He presents a strong case for his rules in the context of teaching science.

As a facilitator, I am interested in the balance between creating a safe space to learn with the adventure of curiosity. Sometimes, when a learner arrives at this place, it can feel disorientating or seem confusing.

The question I would like to ask is, is this “confusion” a sign of openness to the unknown or a reluctance to learn something new?

What do you think?

#edcmooc: Today’s metaphors for future reference

This is the second assignment in my #edcmooc. This time I have been invited to comment on some possible perspectives of Utopia and Dystopia in the future presented in a series of short videos and films.  I plan to experiment with some metaphors and explore the following questions. Who is set to benefit from the personal, constant attentions of information technology, and who might lose out?

Now, I leap into this inquiry with a Utopian view.  I have trained both digital natives and digital immigrants and, while they ask me for a completely different approach to the way I support them, they have a common intention. They are looking for THEIR new innovative solution. This could be to find a way to build a roller-coaster in Minecraft in 30 seconds or it could be to figure out how to send a simple message on a smart phone. In their quests I think they are equal and, in a learning context, they bring the importance of diversity in how we learn.

In the following two videos, Microsoft and Corning are selling the Utopian view of life being much easier (and rather clean!). Everybody is at ease with the technology. Both digital natives and immigrants could be present.   Here the information is accessed with a simple swipe of the hand within the zone of a sensor. It follows that all those with good spacial awareness and can ask for the right data will be winners. (Note to self: I really should take a course in sign language. Addendum: will I have to live through an age of sitting completely still? Addendum II: remind me to take out shares in massage chairs).  Are there any losers in the frame? Well, there those who will not have the physical dexterity to take exams in fly-swatting or commanding visually dominant data, there are those who will not have the financial collateral and there are those who will choose to opt out of the omnipresence of data control. The digital anti-heroes who want to win a different battle for human-ness.

Where was I? Oh yes, metaphors. In both videos you are invited to imagine the accessibility of information in learning and working. A sort of white hole that is continually providing data. In the Corning video “A Day Made of Glass 2”, The glass is a window into anything you would wish to know or need – in an instant. As observers we see people being at ease, perhaps not even noticing the technology. It is transparent with intelligent augmented reality to enhance our environment.

In the second video, “Productivity Future Vision (2011)”, Microsoft is keen to how much easier life can be where people integrate their life into the digi-sphere. Fascinatingly it shows us that the keyboard and the Size 0 phone is a resilient tool for facilitating this. is this the story of the perfect future?

Furthermore is this future Utopian or Dystopian? I find the idea of all my dull tasks being managed by intelligent online systems VERY seductive. And, conveniently clean. I enjoy the positive messages in the two promotional videos. If the participants of this world trust their world, why not see this image as Utopian.

BUT is it all rather too clean? Why do I decide to conjure up a dramatic picture with passionate people rejecting this perfect life style and living in derelict factories wearing dirty, badly knitted  jumpers? Because popular media finds the Dystopian view irresistible. Our myths, stories, films and newspapers are filled with examples. Heroes (with imaginative disadvantages) are relentlessly fighting the corrupt, all-powerful authorities. Yes, the evidence is overwhelming. The dull fact is that the Dystopian plot buys more interest than the relaxing clean Utopia.

It follows that with the current huge wall of distrust in the managers of these magical digital interfaces together with the blooming ‘live’ examples of cyber-crime, I am inclined to shed my neatly fitting Utopian suit and vote with my badly knitted woolly jumper.

Other blogs I have enjoyed include:

Ary Aranguiz

David Hopkins

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