Learning to work with AI
Recently I wrote about the growing importance of investing in the skills of employees so that they can adapt to the changing technology landscape they’re working in. It was based upon a recent Accenture report, which argued that organizations need to take a systemic approach to ensuring the interaction between man and machine is a smooth one. Whilst generally corporate training budgets are on a downward trend, there are a couple of recent developments that suggest all is not entirely lost and small progress is being made.
The first comes from Google, who have teamed up with MOOC pioneer Coursera to launch an online course for IT support professionals. It’s estimated that IT support roles will grow by 10% by 2026, and the course is designed to learn the kind of skills required to land such a role. The hands-on labs are designed by IT experts at Google to offer an affordable way for people to gain the skills they need to get on in their career. Coursers believe that the courses can take someone from notice to the kind of standard required to become an IT Support Specialist in just 8-12 months.
Stepping onto the ladder
To help people make that first step, Google are set to offer financial assistance to 10,000 or so people in the U.S. this year as part of their Google.org initiative. This will consist both of scholarships and also support to a range of nonprofit groups who all aim to help undeserved groups train and improve their career prospects. In addition to taking the course, the program also aims to help learners get their first job at the end. Those who complete the six courses that make up the certificate will be able to share their qualification with a range of potential employers, including Walmart, Infosys and, of course, Google themselves. Another program aiming to develop IT skills was recently launched by NVIDIA, Scan Computers and Amazon Web Services (AWS). The group have launched a deep learning teaching kit that they hope will help introduce Year 9 pupils to the world of AI.
They’ll pick up a range of AI concepts and terminologies, whilst also investigating the real world applications of the technology. This will involve the creation, testing and evaluation of their own AI system to recognize images. Each teacher will be granted free cloud-based GPU instances courtesy of AWS. “AI is already part of our everyday lives, and by the time today’s 13-year-olds are entering the workforce, it will have a significant impact on the kinds of jobs available to them,” the project team say. “The World Economic Forum estimates that, by 2025, 90 percent of jobs will require digital skills, and that 65 percent of children entering primary school today will work in jobs that don’t currently exist. It’s critical that we introduce pupils to core AI concepts so they’re equipped to thrive in this environment.”
NVIDIA are firm believes that education is vitally important if our AI-driven future is to be embraced and exploited. With the lives of young people today surrounded by AI, whether in the home, the workplace or in their transportation, it’s crucial that they can not only understand the technology but think critically about it. They hope that their program will be a small step in that direction so that the technology is viewed rationally. The teaching kit was launched today (26th January) at the Bett education show in London and the team hope to make it available to all secondary schools in the UK before long.
You could argue that these are small steps, and there is still considerable work needed to ensure society is able to adapt to the changes wrought by new technologies, not least in ensuring those who are traditionally disenfranchised by education can take advantage of these kind of schemes. It is a small step in the right direction however.