Welcome to DevLearn 2017 – Las Vegas

DevLearn Conference Image

Day 1

It has been 6 years since I last visited the DevLearn conference, so this year I decided to return to ‘whacky’ Las Vegas, with my colleague Helen Watts, to find out if anything has changed since my last visit. Of course, I have not been idle over that time, I have frequented the Learning Solutions conference in Florida a few times and have even been spotted at the ATD conference in Denver Colorado, it is good to mix it up a little in my pursuit to gather knowledge and intelligence about our industry!

The venue for this year is the Mirage Hotel, an imposing resort on the strip, with its very own volcano nightly and a mix of modern and old school charm. The first session was held in the Grand Ballroom, Sci-Fi meets Reality: The Future, Today, presented by Amy Webb. Amy is a futurist. Futurists learn to spot weak signals without getting distracted by shiny objects!

Amy’s starting by reminding us that technology is increasingly intersecting with our everyday lives in both weird and wonderful ways. The magic of technology! There was a reference to olden times, Ada Lovelace was photographed in front of Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine in 1843, right back then they were talking about a computer that could think on its own! Wind forward to today and we have a hotel in Japan that is entirely staffed by robots!

For 60 years or more we’ve been trying and failing, to teach machines to think for themselves, but we are getting there. We already have Artificial Narrow Intelligence with phone maps, Spotify and the experience that Facebook gives us. However, Amy did cover the darker side, citing the example of Tay, the Microsoft chatbot which caused controversy by posting inflammatory and offensive tweets based on its interactions with people on Twitter, forcing Microsoft to shut down the account after only 16 hours.

Two key thought-provoking takeaways were:

  1. we are teaching machines correct and incorrect, but not necessarily right from wrong – unless we address this the future impact of AI could do more harm than good

  2. for Artificial Intelligence to succeed humans have to fail!

Other cool takeaways from day 1:

  • Shoot video for mobile in a vertical format where possible – this has 9 times more completed views according to Snapchat
  • We should make more use of radio-style interview/phone podcasts in learning – they are effective and relatively cheap to produce
  • Watch out for increasing use of augmented reality now that Apple’s ARKit and Google’s ARCore have effectively turned all our smartphones into a magical lens on the world
  • MicroLearning is here to stay (it is not new – think sesame street!) however, it was described as providing just enough information, ‘Adequacy not Mastery’

All this and last minute tickets to see Diana Ross for a step back in time to the days of Motown – what an amazing first day! Las Vegas never fails to impress!

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