The AI Career Landscape
AI is getting even more traction lately because of recent innovations that have made headlines, Alexa’s unexpected laughing notwithstanding. But AI has been a sound career choice for a while now because of the growing adoption of the technology across industries and the need for trained professionals to do the jobs created by this growth. Pundits predict that AI will create close to 2.3 million jobs by 2020. However, it is also forecasted that this technology will wipe out over 1.7 million jobs, resulting in about half a million new jobs worldwide. In addition, AI also offers many unique and viable career opportunities. AI is used in almost every industry, from entertainment to transportation, yet we have a huge need for qualified, skilled professionals.
AI and Machine Learning Explained
If you’re new to the field, you might be wondering, just what is Artificial Intelligence then? AI is how we make intelligent machines. It’s software that learns similar to how humans learn, mimicking human learning so it can take over some of our jobs for us and do other jobs better and faster than we humans ever could. Machine learning is a subset of AI, so sometimes when we’re describing AI, we’re actually describing machine learning, which is the process by which AI learns.
The Three Main Stages of AI
AI is rapidly evolving, which is one reason why a career in AI offers so much potential. As the technology evolves, the learning improves. Van Loon described the three stages of AI and machine learning development as follow:
- Stage one is machine learning. Machine learning consists of intelligent systems using algorithms to learn from experience.
- Stage two is machine intelligence, which is where our current AI technology resides now. In this stage, machines learn from experience based on false algorithms. It is a more evolved form of machine learning, with improved cognitive abilities.
- Stage three is machine consciousness. This is when systems can do self-learning from experience without any external data. Siri is an example of machine consciousness.
Many big brands are already using AI, including IBM, Amazon, Microsoft, and Accenture. All apply machine learning on a large scale and drive innovation. In the future, more and more industries will be using AI and machine learning, driving tremendous growth in the job market. However, Van Loon pointed out that you don’t have to work for a larger company to work in AI or machine learning. All types of industries are moving towards this technology, including transportation, manufacturing, energy, farming, and finance.
How to Get Started in AI
If you’re intrigued by this career field and wondering how to get started, Van Loon described the learning paths for three different types of professionals; those new to the field, programmers, and those already working in data science. He also points out that different skill sets are required by different industries, but all working in AI should have good communication skills before addressing the math and computing skills needed.
For those new to the field, Van Loon suggested starting with mathematics and taking all kinds of courses in machine learning. In addition, someone wanting to move into AI should have strong computer skills as well as programming skills like C++ and an understanding of the algorithms. You should also supplement that education with general business knowledge. Most importantly, make sure any training you get is hands on.
Specific Jobs in AI
Although we talk about AI and machine learning as broad categories, the jobs available are more specific. Some of the jobs described by Van Loon during the webinar include:
- Machine learning researcher
- AI engineer
- Data mining and analysis
- Machine learning engineer
- Data Scientist
- Business intelligence (BI) developer
The Future of AI
When asked about the future of AI, Van Loon replied that the pace of development makes it hard to forecast the future. With the innovation we will see in the coming years, we can’t even imagine what will develop, but we do know we already have a shortage of trained AI and machine learning professionals, and that gap will only grow until we get people trained and placed in the millions of AI jobs. If you want to be one of those professionals, get certified, because the sooner you get your training started, the sooner you will be working in this exciting and rapidly changing field.