William Webster

written by

William Webster

Researcher, Avoncourt Partners GmbH

Culture Blog - May 1, 2018

MOOCs forging the AI future

More and more businesses are offering free massive open online courses (MOOCs), beginning a reversal in a decades-long trend of paid online courses for training, college and continued education. More interesting than the fact that they are free is that they often deal with extremely high-level technology: artificial intelligence, blockchain and machine- and deep-learning.

Smiling young student learning on line at coffeehouse

See for example NVIDIA, who is currently offering 24 various MOOCs. The topics focus entirely on advanced computing and deep learning.

For companies like NVIDIA to be offering MOOCs, these must be aligned with their business objectives. While the markets for AI tools and deep learning are booming, high tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and NVIDIA are trying to find a balance between experimental research and real progress implementation. Tech giants like these have been pumping billions of US dollars into AI tools and frameworks that can open up exciting new possibilities. The health industry, human resources, sales, education, and the finance industry – all these are positioned to be greatly aided and to experience advancement by AI tools.

According to Susan Dumais, assistant director of Microsoft Research AI and distinguished scientist, the most important reason for launching MOOC AI training courses is to stimulate interest throughout the tech industry, in order to fill the gap of skilled workers in the area of artificial intelligence.

“AI is increasingly important in how our products and services are designed and delivered and that is true for our customers as well. Fundamentally, we are all interested in developing talent that is able to build, understand and design systems that have AI as a central component,”

she added.

Recently launched Microsoft courses cover areas such as Microsoft Cognitive Services, which enable developers to incorporate intelligent algorithms for computer vision, natural language processing and translation capabilities into their products and the Azure Bot Service. These programs are part of a larger corporate effort to attract talent and create developer communities.

Mountain View, USA - March 4, 2015: Microsoft sign at the entrance of their Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, California. One of the main buildings can be seen in the background. Oblique view.

The fact that STEM education is gaining popularity among non-IT professionals and there is high adoption of MOOCs among the non-IT bracket, companies around the world have begun putting into practice mechanisms to ensure the availability of personnel needed to tackle AI roles in their companies’ processes. Bigger tech firms like AWS & Google want enterprises and startups to take advantage of and utilize their products like AutoML or Gluon. They know that this can only happen when there is a properly trained workforce.

These developments of MOOCs are an invitation to tech savvy teams and individuals to capitalize on the free formation and to network with the companies offering these courses. To develop AI into a human-friendly and omni-industry favorable technology is an interest all share, for the sake of the individual entrepreneur and the common good.