“Our intelligence is what makes us human, and AI is an extension of that quality.” – Yann LeCun
Globally companies are under severe pressure to rapidly upgrade AI efforts to cope with the COVID-19 crisis over the last 12 months, to practice social distancing but simultaneously keeping the work force productive or bear the consequences of retrenchment, unemployment, and drastic business failure.
The RELX survey indicated that 63% of business leaders reported that AI technologies had a positive impact on their business's ability to stay resilient during the COVID 19 crises (McKendrick:2020)
Like the rest of the world South Africa is experiencing a huge AI skills gap and the COVID -19 pandemic has forced businesses to accelerate their digitalisation efforts by implementing new or upgrading their technologies and providing their staff expert AI training.
What is AI?
FRTC encourages individuals not to be intimidated by the concept AI. At some point we all have interacted or have some basic experience using AI such as bank ATMs, mobile phones, computers, online purchasing, financial apps, and fingerprint scanning.
Basic concepts of artificial intelligence can be briefly described as follows (Yeung: 2020)
a. AI can do image recognition (it can see), speech recognition (it can hear), auto-driving (it can walk), consumer finance, and so on.
b. To implement all of these, we must know about machine learning and deep learning, which is the core content of artificial intelligence.
As a long-term investment into our career the evolving use of technology necessitates every organisation and individual to upgrade or learn new skills in AI.
Research study conducted by Snap Logic with 300 IT leaders and 1000 employees in the United States and United Kingdom found that 93% of the organisations committed to AI but skills shortage poses considerable challenge and 68 % are investing in retraining and upskilling existing employees. (Bourne: 2019).
Artificial Intelligence 4-month programme
FRTC understands the job market needs and has a well-established relationship with business leaders that provides insight into the current skills gaps. Hence, the institution responded to the business sectors need by offering an accredited 4-month skills training course that provides basic and intermediate information on concepts of Artificial Intelligence.
‘We are inundated with requests from all business sectors to provide a short skill learning programme and to train their staff on basic and intermediate AI skills as this need is critical to keep business progressive and to avoid unemployment’, explains FRTC Director Bernadette Felix.
Considering the demand for AI skills in all sectors candidates from all professions and school leavers should invest in this programme.
The benefits and applications of AI
FRTC believes that the necessity of investing in AI skills cannot be denied. The world has already witnessed that AI has many different productive uses in business such as (nibusinessinfo.co.uk:2020):
1.Improve customer services for example, paying your electricity bill via a banking app.
2.Automate workloads for example collect and analyse data from smart sensors.
3.Optimise logistics for example, use of AI-powered image recognition tools to monitor and optimise transport routes.
4.Increase manufacturing output and efficiency for example, use of robots to automate production lines.
5.Prevent outages for example, specific AI software may also help you to detect and deter security intrusions.
6.Predict performance for example, the use of AI applications to determine when you might reach performance goals, such as response time to help desk calls.
7.Predict behaviour for example, the use of ML algorithms to analyse patterns of online behaviour to detect credit card fraud.
8.Manage and analyse your data for example, AI can help you interpret and mine your data more efficiently and provide meaningful insight into your assets, your brand, staff, or customers.
9.Improve your marketing and advertising for example, effectively track user behaviour and automate many routine marketing tasks.
AI and humans working together
It can be argued that AI cannot always perform best independently. AI technologies are effective at steering or replacing the lower-level, repetitive tasks, but businesses often achieve their goals and, outstanding performance when humans and machines work together that enhances continuous improvement and competitiveness. Therefore, AI should also be appreciated as a means of improving productivity rather than replacing human abilities and talents.
“AI is a tool. The choice about how it gets deployed is ours.” – Oren Etzioni