Introducing Talla After Hours — A Way To Learn About AI at Work

Talla incorporated in late 2015. In the past 3 years we have learned a lot. AI is changing so many things about work, and we continually find ourselves educating employees, customers, prospects, and investors about new ways of doing things. So, we’ve decided to formalize much of what we have learned and teach it to anyone who is interested. We are calling it Talla After Hours, and it is a series of courses taught by Talla employees.

What Is It Exactly?

These courses cover a lot of topics. Most are AI related. For example, we have a one hour course on AI product management. It covers how to manage product workflows differently when you have to integrate data science teams and AI features. Why is AI product management different? Because data science isn’t as well understood as engineering. It doesn’t work the same way. This one hour course will help you understand those differences.

A second course, one that I will teach, is on the PAC framework. This is a tool for executives who aren’t technical to use to think about applying AI at work. Where do you start? How do you know if AI will be effective? Those are the things we cover.

In addition, some courses will be highly technical. Want to learn about NLP? We’ve put a BiDaf model into production. We’ve tried to put a neural turing machine into production (but failed). We have real NLP battle scars so come learn from our data scientists about what worked and what didn’t.

And then some courses, just a few, will be stuff we teach at Talla that isn’t AI focused. For example, once a quarter I teach a Communications Course that every employee must take once a year. It’s about how to communicate better at work. How do you have difficult conversations? How do you disagree? How do you deliver bad news? I’ve taught it at other companies as well, and it is usually well received.

Why Are We Doing This?

There are a few reasons we are doing this. First, it’s an extension of the Talla culture and the way we run the company. Contrary to much of the crap you read about company culture today, Talla is not a democracy. We expect people to be experts in the thing they do, and we expect final decisions to lie with certain people responsible for them, not be consensus based.

As such, our culture is one of constant debate and discussion, teaching and learning. We embrace mistakes and errors, and incorporate them into internal notes (and courses sometimes) so that we can share information and everyone can get better. This is a natural extension because it is something we are already doing internally.

Secondly, I think you really master something by teaching it, so I’ve asked all the executives at Talla to teach something.

Third, it’s our way to give back to the community. I don’t believe in secret business practices. We don’t have non-competes. We were never in stealth mode. It just isn’t how we work. We like transparency, and the best thing we can give back to the Boston community right now is an overview of what we have learned by trying to build an AI company, which doesn’t always work like the companies of the past (if you want to know why, take one of the courses).

How Do I Sign Up?

You can see the courses here, and sign up for any. There are no requirements except interest. Any course that has even one attendee will still be taught. If you think this is cool, please share it with your friends. We will also be adding more courses according to demand, but please realize this is a small part of our work here at Talla so, we may not be able to host everyone who wants in if some courses are really popular.

As always, if you have any feedback or ideas, we’d love to hear them. Thanks for reading.