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Coursera Launches “AI for Everyone”

By Cait Etherington
November 14, 2018
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and founding lead of Google’s Brain Project, thinks everyone needs to understand artificial intelligence (AI). To realize his mission, on November 14, Ng announced that starting in 2019, Coursera will offer a new course, appropriately called, “AI for Everyone.” Unlike many of Coursera’s other AI courses, this new course is a non-technical course targeting people working outside the computer science and engineering fields.

The Impact of AI on the Future of Work

According to the World Economic Forum, a new generation of smart machines, fueled by rapid advances in AI and robotics, “could potentially replace a large proportion of existing human jobs. While some new jobs would be created as in the past, the concern is there may not be enough of these to go round, particularly as the cost of smart machines falls over time and their capabilities increase.”

While the scope of the changes are difficult to predict, a study by PWF suggests that up to a third of existing jobs across the OECD could be at risk as automation reshapes the economy and workforce. To be clear, the news isn’t all bad. AI, robotics and other new forms of automation will also fuel great economic benefits. But as we undergo several waves of innovation–algorithmic, augmentation and autonomy–jobs will be lost. According to a recent PWF study, “During the first wave, we expect relatively low displacement of existing jobs, perhaps only around 3% by the early 2020s. But job displacement could increase in later waves as these technologies mature and are rolled out across the economy in increasingly autonomous form. By the mid-2030s, up to 30% of jobs could be automatable.”

The PWF study suggests that different demographics may be impacted to different degrees. During the first wave of automation, men may be more severely impacted than women, largely due to the impact automation is expected to have on the transportation industry. However, there are also concerns that women in administrative roles may be severely impacted. For managers and organizational leaders, even those in non-technical roles, in the future, it will be essential to understand AI and machine learning in order to make smart decisions about everything from staffing and training to supply chain management and product design. This is precisely why Coursera has launched its new course.

Coursera’s New Course Introduces AI to Non-Techies

Ng announced “AI for Everyone” in a blog post on Medium on November 14. Consistent with predictions from the World Economic Forum and PWF, Ng maintains that AI will soon transform every industry: “Between now and 2030, AI will create an estimated $13 trillion of GDP growth.” Ng further observes, “I meet regularly with CEOs who want to transform their companies with machine learning. The number one question they ask is how to align their long-term business strategy with today’s AI capabilities.”

It is on this basis that Ng suggests that in today’s rapidly changing work world, AI is no longer just something that engineers and computer scientists need to understand. This is why his new non-technical course is designed to help anyone understand AI technologies, including machine learning and deep learning, and identify opportunities to apply AI to problems in their own organizations. As Ng writes, people who enroll in the course will “see examples of what today’s AI can — and cannot — do.”

While by no means limited to a single demographic, Ng notes that “AI for Everyone” will be of specific interest to CEOs, product managers, marketers, salespeople, designers, financiers and other “non-technical business leaders”  who want to understand how to build “a sustainable AI strategy.” For anyone interested in enrolling, the course can be completed as a certificate or in audit-only mode. If you opt to complete the course for a certificate, the enrollment cost is $49, and enrollment is currently open.