KM & Artificial Intelligence (again)

Further to my last missive, I am continuing to learn about this whole area. I recently visited some AI experts who have been developing some very powerful software that can do some amazing things with data (numbers, text and images). I wasn’t too sure whether to be really impressed or a little bit scared of the future.

For example, it turns out that there will be instances where instead of humans doing most of the work and getting computers to do certain, focussed tasks the opposite will be happening - AI can run the majority of activities calling up humans to input at intervals.

Cars & driving are a good example of this we are moving up a new 5 tier system; Tier 1 is humans do the majority of the driving but computers do a single task (eg radar-adaptive cruise control) to Tier 5 where computers basically drive the whole journey while humans sit back and read a newspaper. Currently many car manufacturers seem to be at Tier 3 with Tier 4 coming in the next year or two.

It seems the same applies to Projects and activities in the public sector and elsewhere. Reporting is already significantly automated and developing fast, what about the delivery of projects themselves? If we had the equivalent 5 tier AI implementation in Public Sector project management, what would they look like?

What about the link to KM? This came up in the meeting with the AI guys. It turns out that organisations that are already “knowledge minded” with understanding and management of knowledge domains, KM Managers and maintained KM Plans are better placed to receive and develop AI. This is about more than just focussing on individual knowledge transfer or ad-hoc attempts at (so-called) lessons learnt, but strategic KM where knowledge is recognised as an organisational asset and managed as such.

This whole area is fertile ground for analogies – in our case the meeting came up with that of journeying to Mars. If full AI implementation is about getting to Mars then having strategic KM in place means you have already built a base station on the Moon. You have escaped the Earth’s gravity (no mean feat) by getting the culture in place that recognises knowledge as an asset and technical issues addressed such as KM Plans and better organisation information / records management. Re-reading that not sure that analogy will work for everyone, but it worked at the meeting – we even got talking about the Interstellar move!

What are KM Plans? Briefly, they are about having owned & maintained KM Plans for major projects and functions. They have different structures because, in simple terms, projects use & create knowledge on behalf of the organisation and functions are the long term custodians of knowledge on behalf of the organisation. However, with their defined scopes, business context, roles and associated knowledge flows then they serve as a good “docking point” for AI to come in to the organisation.

Lastly, all this comes with risks for society. What if AI starts to get a little too smart for us mere humans, not just in business / public sector activity but in defence and security? Do we need an Office for Technological Responsibility akin to the Office for Budget Responsibility?