For most of the past 70 years of AI, much of the advancement within the field of AI has taken place within a handful of AI hubs worldwide.
In Silicon Valley, Boston and Seattle – the most tech-focused places on Earth — knowledgeable and talented tech experts gather to research and develop AI tools and systems that will be used by consumers and enterprises around the globe.
While the siloing of AI innovation has functioned adequately in the past, it is rapidly losing effectiveness and serving only to weaken the progress of AI. The industry of AI needs global talent — it needs diverse perspectives — if AI has any hope of gaining more widespread adoption and advancement.
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Why the Current Generation of AI Talent Needs Help
Though the first example of artificial intelligence emerged in the 1950s, many universities still lack standardised and rigorous AI degree programs to train students in AI tools and techniques.
As a result, the vast majority of experts in the machine learning field are more or less self-taught; they might have formal educations in computer science, and CVs stuffed with programming and data engineering credentials, but the knowledge and skills they have pertaining to artificial intelligence are likely to have been garnered piecemeal over the course of their careers, through individual artificial intelligence short courses or else through experimenting with AI on their own time.
The commitment of time and energy required to gain a high level of AI competence means that there is precious little talent in artificial intelligence to go around. In many cases, organisations desperate for AI solutions cannot cobble together a capable AI team, which stalls their adoption of AI and dulls any competitive advantage they might have gained within their market.
In fact, insufficient AI skills amongst IT staff is among the top concerns for chief information officers.
However, there is another noteworthy issue with the current generation of AI talent: background. It is hardly a secret that the technology sector is primarily populated by white men, many of whom come from a middle-class, suburban background.
Because many AI teams suffer from a serious lack of diversity, they are likely to unconsciously introduce dangerous bias into the AI systems they create. Biased AI produces flawed results that can work to disadvantage certain groups and thwart efficient business growth.
Thus, it is imperative not only that the AI sector increase in size with new talent, but also that the next generation of AI talent comes from diverse backgrounds to expand the perspectives influencing AI development.
Who The Next Generation of AI Talent Will Be
AI has enormous potential to provide progress to key sectors of the economy. Businesses in industries such as aerospace, defense, education, housing, transportation, public safety, manufacturing, supply chain, and more stand to benefit significantly from the ready availability of AI tools.
Yet, the best AI solutions will not come from third-party AI experts isolated in Silicon Valley; rather, they will come from those who understand the unique attributes, needs and goals of each individual industry and market. Thus, the next generation of AI talent should not come directly and solely from the technology sector, but tech-savvy professionals in the industries begging for AI.
Business leaders must invest in the AI education and training of existing employees — including themselves. Enrolling in online courses dedicated to AI strategy and implementation can provide executives with a foundation of understanding that will help them direct their organisational AI framework into the future.
Then, executives can develop programs that will assist in the cultivation of educated and enthusiastic AI talent within their existing workforce. Tuition assistance programs, for example, can provide IT employees with opportunities for gaining AI knowledge and skill through formal education, and workers can hone their AI abilities in industry boot camps.
Investing in existing staff members in this way will create deep satisfaction and loyalty, allowing organisations to benefit from enhanced AI experience for years.
Some of the strongest forces to shape AI talent are largely out of corporate control. For example, many AI influencers are calling for governments to regulate AI and require certifications or licenses for practising AI professionals.
Other important members of the AI community want to see AI education integrated into K-12 schools, so children can build their tech foundations early. AI will undoubtedly be prominent in the future, so the more organisations and institutions can do to build a large and diverse AI talent pool, the better.
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