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Artificial Intelligence facing large skills shortage: Microsoft

WASHINGTON: The fast-emerging field of Artificial Intelligence, which has suddenly caught the attention of the IT industry and the governments across the world, is facing a large skills shortage, a top Microsoft official has said.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) is also facing the challenge of appropriate use of data, group programme manager of Microsoft Learning Matt Winkler told .

“There is a pretty large skills shortage. Lots of folks are talking about it (AI). A lot of folks are very, very excited about it and then they want to go and make that real. And when they go to make that real, there’s a really large skills shortage,” Winkler said.

That’s why it’s so exciting to be trying to bring these technologies to more developers because it’s going to bring more people into the mix, he said.

Winkler said the second challenge is really around data.

“How do you get the data in the right shape? How do you prepare the data? Because all of the AI in the world is based on data, and so what makes it interesting is the data that you have, the data that your business has, that what you understand about your customers. So how do you most effectively use that data to go and produce models,” he said.

Then within kind of any individual product project, one of the key challenges is the same thing that the industry has seen with software, which is, if one tries and do too much, the project gets much harder.

“And so we’ll often times see failed projects, which are the result of trying to create just the most amazing thing having done nothing,” he said.

At the recently concluded developers conference – Build 2018 – Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella talked about how to make AI accessible for everyone.

“Our guidance to a lot of customers to pick a domain and pick a used case where you have a high, high-quality data and that it is really well understood. Start there, get some wins with that and then start expanding the use cases so far,” Winkler said.

Microsoft is partnering with multiple players in both the private and governmental sectors to use AI for public good.

“Absolutely, AI is being used for public good. For instance, it is being used in school districts in order to predict drop-out rates in India.

“We see a ton of healthcare applications: patient re-admission rates is very very popular one. We have seen medical image analysis. We are doing some really interesting work doing diabetes prediction through scans of retinas,” Winkler said.

Microsoft is working with the Snow Leopard Trust, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the preservation of the snow leopard and parts of Nepal and India to analyse in real time the presence of snow leopards.

“So it’s fundamentally changed the way they do their research,” he said, adding that the Microsoft is working with three-four other conservation agencies doing similar things.

“For a lot of the customers, what AI is enabling is not just an incremental… but It’s something they fundamentally couldn’t do before. So it really does introduce a step change for the things that they want to do in their business,” Winkler added.

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