UTA to help Boeing plan for teaching employees to work alongside bots, robots, artificial intelligence

Wednesday, May 30, 2018 • Media Contact : Louisa Kellie

George Siemens, executive director of UTA’s Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge or LINK Research Lab

Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington have received a new grant from Boeing to help the organization understand future learning environments where new technologies such as bots, robots, and artificial intelligence are active participants in teams alongside workers.

“A lot of companies are facing a challenge to reskill their employees for an environment where they need to collaborate with technology, not just use it,” said George Siemens, executive director of UTA’s Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge or LINK Research Lab.

Smart bots like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri already are being incorporated into social environments as a resource and support in the daily lives of millions of people.

As artificial intelligence improves, these bots are expected to be working with employees in integrated teams, with the bots able to act not only as an assistant, but as a key team member, providing analysis and input.

“It will be like human plus, a resource with more capacity than only humans working as part of the team,” Siemens said.  ”Whole new skill sets will be needed for employees.”

During the next year, Siemens and his team will develop a series of papers and reports for Boeing on how new knowledge and learning technologies are being developed and deployed in both university and corporate environments.

The team also will present Boeing leadership with findings detailing the organizational implications of new ways of learning and acquiring knowledge and what impact that could have on an organization’s culture.

“In a recent survey from Dell Technologies, more than 80 percent of business leaders expect that humans and machines will work as integrated teams within their organization inside of five years, so this is a very strategic issue, “ Siemens said. “The economic impact of these changes, and reskilling workers to more rapidly enter new career categories, will be in the billions of dollars.”

Last year, LINK Research Lab received a grant from Boeing to better understand the role that social networks play in the completion rates and academic performance of students taking online courses.

LINK Research Lab engages researchers, educators and graduate students to connect, share and collaborate in advancing social and technological networks, designing future learning models and exploring the future of higher education.

“This new project with Boeing is reflective of LINK lab’s prominent research profile, which helps us work with top corporate partners, advance scientific research and develop doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers in the process,” Siemens said.