Panel Discusses Challenges, Concerns and Opportunities in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

On May 31, ISPI Montreal held a bilingual panel discussion on “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Performance” at Temps Libre Coop. About 55 students and performance improvement professionals attended to learn more about how AI is impacting the workplace and society in general, and how humans and machines can work together to improve performance.

ISPI Montreal Chapter President Kristina Schneider moderated the discussion through a dynamic question and answer format. The panel was composed of AI specialists who are currently leading the efforts of various organizations to develop products and programs that leverage AI and data science. The five panelists were:

  • Leslie Cheung, PhD, Partnership Development Director, Powered by Data
  • Jean-François Connolly, PhD, Research Advisor – Entrepreneurship, IVADO
  • Isabelle Tremblay, PhD, Director, Product Development, D-TECK, and organizational development consultant
  • Evan Prodromou, founder and CEO,
  • Laura Fort, Chief Product Officer, Erudite AI
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About 55 participants attended ISPI Montreal’s recent panel discussion on the impact of AI on performance.
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As a warm-up activity, participants added their hopes and fears about the future of AI to a giant robot.

Laura Fort said that the four main ways people currently interact with AI are:

  • “Repetitive and automated tasks, such as buying tickets online or using ATMs for banking transactions;
  • Mobile swiping technologies;
  • New jobs, such as data analysts and chat pod designers; and
  • Super tasks, which involve using machines to do dangerous or highly complex tasks people can’t do” in such areas as space exploration and the nuclear energy industry.

Laura explained that while machines are good at processing huge amounts of data, humans are best at drawing conclusions from data and making decisions based on those conclusions.

Evan Prodromou discussed the hybrid activities that machines and humans can do together. He said that while AI can evaluate thousands of images to recognize cancer or other diseases in healthcare, “people will always be able to see the big picture” and recognize human errors that impact diagnosis. He added that the future jobs AI will help create include professionals who can use AI for data analysis to determine how organizations can improve their performance metrics.

Leslie Cheung explained that Powered by Data works with social sector organizations to help them “maximize data use to achieve their goals and for the public good.” She said that the challenges for non-profits in transitioning into the “age of AI” include getting access to the right data to make informed decisions, and understanding how to use data.

Isabelle Tremblay said that along with impacting manual labour jobs, in the future, AI will also likely be used increasingly to do work in such professions as accounting and actuarial science. She stressed that organizations will need to prepare for the reorganization of professional work as it is increasingly impacted by AI tools. But she also noted that the soft skills that only humans have will continue to be needed and should be developed by organizations to deal with the current “soft skills deficiency.”

Jean-François Connolly explained that IVADO helps organizations perform better by advancing research in data science, operational research and artificial intelligence, and transferring this knowledge to industry. He said that IVADO helps to link academic expertise in these areas with the business needs of organizations. The scientists affiliated with IVADO provide data management methods to industry and inform decision making for optimal resource use.

ISPI Montreal would like to thank the five speakers and attendees for making the panel discussion a successful and dynamic event.