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  • Writer's pictureChristoph Burkhardt

Learning in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

No other human capability will be transformed by the emerging presence of #AI everywhere than our ability to learn. Get ready to change your #learning patterns starting today.

Changes happen faster, we need to adapt faster. The way humans adapt is by learning. To expand our learning capabilities will be crucial once AI enters all areas of life within the coming decade. How can learning make sure we remain agile and adaptive in our learning? Here are four strategies I find helpful when working with clients:

#Unlearn. Everything you know has been the result of an adaptation process to your environment. The facts you have learned over time are not as stable as your mind wants you to believe they are. Hardly anything you know is factually stable in the sense that it would hold to be true forever. We need to be agile in our learning and admit that there is hardly anything we know for sure. Rather we are working with assumptions and hypotheses that change constantly. Be ready to give up your need to hold on to what you know. The world changes faster than we think and so does everything we have learned. Let go of truth you hold dear.

#Experiment. This can be much smaller than most people realize. Simply taking time to ask “what if things were very different…” can make a enormous difference in your ability to learn from the data provided by your own mind. What if my clients changed what they like completely over night? What if I won the lottery tomorrow? What if Albert Einstein was facing the challenges I am facing right now? Come up with new hypotheses when you do not need them. The moment you are under pressure you will no longer have the capacity to explore other options. In survival mode experiments are very hard to do. Do them while you can. And do as many as you can.

#Test. When testing your new hypotheses you will encounter resistance and probably some tough arguments. The further you go with your experimentation and attacks on what people think is unquestionable truth the more you will get under fire for questioning the status quo. When you talk to people about your theories and new assumptions listen carefully but do not take any advice. Rather listen with a mindset of asking yourself why they respond in the way they do. What they say is not relevant to your hypothesis but it is relevant to make you aware of other people see the world. In other words you learn about their ontology, about their worldview and how they make sense of the world which ultimately puts you in the powerful position to take them on a journey to adapt. Since you are learning about them you are provided with a data asset that will turn out to be the one single most important factor in your adaptation process and that is the power to affect change in other people.

#Reflect. This one is easy but I am always amazed to see how very few people apply this strategy to their lives and businesses. Write down your lessons learned. Keep them in one place and go over them on a monthly basis. We move fast and we forget. Take notes and do not trust your memory. The human mind is not equipped with the memory of robots so you have to record it. Writing also forces you to clarify what exactly it is you have learned. The human mind is highly selective about what to keep and at the same time always distorting the past in particular the less recent past. Don’t trust your mind to store your lessons in the form you intended them to. And also don’t trust that you will remember the facts that led to your learning. They will not be stored accurately. Only trust your own learning in the moment it happens.

More adaptive learning strategies will lead to faster learning results which in turn will lead to faster changes in our environment. This in turn forces us to adapt even faster and therefore learn faster. Rather than learning more though we need to focus on constantly adapting what we know. It is not about the quantity of information we store but about the quality of our judgments which ultimately is based on how well we adapt to our changing environment. Learning is a crucial survival strategy and will not disappear nor decline but rather become more valuable the more technologies and tools are being introduced to us.


Read more about the rise of smart machines and how they fundamentally change how we live and work. To get ready for the Age of AI check out Christoph Burkhardt’s new book “Don’t Be a Robot - Seven Survival Strategies in the Age of Artificial Intelligence”.

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