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Love Westworld? Here's how you can make a career out of your zeal for artificial intelligence

You can now have the jobs you've wanted ever since you were six

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 6 June 2018, 1:56 PM
AI is taking over, people

AI is taking over, people Image: Twitter

It was revealed earlier this year how giants like Amazon are rebuilding their infrastructure around artificial intelligence (AI). "It is a renaissance, it is a golden age. We are now solving problems with machine learning and artificial intelligence that were… in the realm of science fiction for the last several decades," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said recently.

The advent of this sci-fi realm in the world of real-life progress is making way for some of the most interesting career paths. Your love for Westworld or Altered Carbon can actually be put to good use if you opt for avenues in AI.

"Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years," says Andrew Ng, the founder of the education-backed tech company Coursera.

AI is a field of Computer Science that enables computers and machines to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. Its many applications range from chess-playing robots and autonomous cars to speech, image, and language processing, robotic manufacturing, and surveillance systems. AI simulates human intelligence processes by combining large datasets, machine learning, and computational power with algorithms capable of solving problems.

AI has taken significant leaps in the past decade, not in real-life but reel-life too. Shows like Westworld, Black Mirror and Altered Carbon give us a perspective of exactly how far the technology can evolve in future.

Bezos has revealed that the discovery of Alexa and Prime Air delivery drones have a lot to do with AI techniques. MNCs like the Chinese tech company Tencent Holdings are taking AI to every aspect of its workforce.

Facebook’s Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) programme engages with academics to solve long-term problems in AI and Facebook is also hiring AI experts around the world. Microsoft purchased AI company Maluuba in January last year, which is a company that uses machine learning for natural language processing. 

Needless to say,  in the next decade or so, a degree in artificial intelligence will emerge as incredibly lucrative. So, how can you go about setting up a career path in AI? 

"Students that undertake the MSc will be equipped with state-of-the-art skills to solve real-world AI problems and will have a deep practical and theoretical understanding of the associated tools and techniques. Students that graduate from the MSc will be ideally positioned to take advantage of the current and forecasted demand for skilled employees in the area of AI development," says Dr Ted Scully, a lecturer in the Department of Computing, at Ireland's Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

Department of Computer Science at CIT has recently announced the launch of their new year-long Master’s degree in Artificial Intelligence. These courses are not just about AI strategies and techniques, but also about attaining the expertise to carry out AI research in academic and R&D environments and provide intelligent solutions to IT problems in companies

One can even pursue doctoral studies within the domain of AI. Entry to the MSc in Artificial Intelligence will require a minimum of a Level 8 Honours Degree in Computer Science, Engineering, Computing or in a cognate discipline. It is also essential for applicants to have an advanced level of proficiency in a modern high-level programming language such as Java.

The tuition fees for non-EU students is €12,000, which is something more than Rs 9 lakh. The university also offers a number of 25 per cent scholarships which would reduce the tuition fee to €9,000 or Rs 7 lakh.

An AI course involves some of the most fascinating programmes involving practical machine learning. "Students will apply machine learning algorithms to perform tasks such as sentiment analysis on Twitter (differentiating between positive and negative tweets). Students will have the opportunity to apply state-of-the-art deep learning algorithms to perform tasks such as emotion recognition and/or voice recognition," says Dr Scully.

They will also be introduced to state-of-the-art optimisation techniques and their application in solving critical real-world problems such as minimising energy usage in a connected micro-grid environment.

Interestingly, Cork University's staff and industry partners have worked closely to define a suite of modules that are both industry-relevant and represent state-of-the-art AI techniques.

"The Computer Science Department maintains regular contact and engagement with the industry in the area. Therefore, the industry-focused projects will be relevant projects defined by industry partners," adds Dr Scully.

The AI wave is taking over India, too. Indian institutes such as IIT Bombay, IIT Hyderabad and the University of Hyderabad are offering courses in AI. Companies like Airtel are working with AI, and Reliance just hired a team to work with AI.

“Reliance Jio has hired a few senior people who will build this team… The company wants to set up this team in either Bengaluru or Hyderabad. Akash Ambani is taking a keen interest in this and is expected to lead this initiative… They have already started the recruitment process in Bengaluru…apart from AI, they are looking for people who can work on machine learning and blockchain," a source was quoted as saying in Analytics India Magazine.

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