Coursera Launches “AI for Everyone”
By Cait Etherington
November 14, 2018
Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and lead player in Google’s Brain Project, thinks everyone needs to understand artificial intelligence (AI). To realize his mission, Ng recently announced a new course on the Coursera platform–“AI for Everyone.” Unlike many of Coursera’s other AI courses, Coursera’s latest offering will be a non-technical course geared toward 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 machines fueled by AI and robotics advances, “could potentially replace a large proportion of existing human jobs” in the near future.
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 disrupts the workforce. To be clear, the news isn’t all bad. AI, robotics and other new forms of automation are also expected to bring many economic benefits. But as we undergo several waves of changes–algorithmic, augmentation and autonomy–jobs will disappear. 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 will likely 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 also 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, and designers. For anyone interested in enrolling, the course can be completed as a certificate or audited.