Artificial Intelligence: Looking towards the future

Artificial Intelligence: Looking towards the future

Do you remember when I asked to imagine the opportunities that artificial intelligence (AI) could create for people across the globe? Well, it seems that the World Bank and Microsoft Philanthropy are working towards building that imagination into reality. They are building a world where all people of all statuses regardless of gender, economic or social statuses have the opportunity to access AI education and skills to be able to keep up with the liquid modern world that we live in today.

The world is changing fast and so is technology, everyday there is a new development, a new advancement not only in technology, but with ideals, skills and education. We are constantly moving, flowing from one creation to the next, never taking a moment to stop. This is what we call living in a liquid modern world. According to Microsoft, these rapid advancements are changing the way we live, how we work and how we learn. With technology constantly evolving, it is up to us to keep up and to adapt to these changes. Those who have the resources and products to adapt to these changes will excel in work, life and society. However, it is a different story for those who are not so lucky.

According to research from Microsoft, 49% of the world is not using the internet and 54% of employees will require significant re- or upskilling by 2022. Combining these statistics with the ever growing numbers in poverty, disability, disadvantaged youth, refugee, the homeless and many more, there are billions of people who are at risk of being left behind.

It is the mission of these organisations to build towards a future that is catered to everyone. Where communities and organisations realise that living in a liquid modern world means to stop the old fashioned, traditional thinking and realise the promise and potential of technology.

The World Bank have recognised the responsibility they have to those who are at risk of being left behind. Microsoft Philanthropy have also acknowledged that action should be taken to close the gap of opportunity as there have been advancements in AI, it has created a gap that must be filled. There are millions of jobs available for people with qualifications as AI researchers or who can be trained and skilled for these positions. Diversity, is another key aspect that AI needs to represent when it comes to closing the gap.

It is widely known there is a gender gap in many occupations and AI is no different. According to research from Microsoft Philanthropy, approximately 16% of all AI workers in the EU are women, similarly to the US, where less than 20% of AI workers are women. Closing the gender gap and the importance of AI workers coming from diverse groups will show the diverse representation among emerging technological workers. It is crucial for the AI sector to show diversity in social, economic and political groups and to have opinions from both men and women. Furthermore, they acknowledge the importance of inclusion by employing people from diverse backgrounds not only assists the employees with their professional and personal lives but companies would be ensuring inclusion, acceptance and diversity.

One of the main groups that Microsoft Philantrhopy have recognised are youth and young people. According to research, the reason why these particular individuals are targeted for AI work is because they are born in the mobile generation, they live with a digital mindset and do not let themselves be limited or defined by conventional degrees or fixed qualifications. They think and work outside the traditional box that we were given in the past, which makes it easier because AI no longer works in the traditional way as well. Artifical intelligence programs have already been developed to educate and skill the youth and young people in AI. FarmBeats School Kits, DigiGirlz AI and Imagine Cup Junior AI Challenge are just some of the programs available to these young individuals.

By focusing on capacity building, training and education, groups like Microsoft Philanthropy would successfully target and equip millions of people who have been displaced by technology and provide them with employment in the digital economy by the year 2025.

Providing these skills and education in AI for people who are at a disadvantage through gender, location, culture, limited resources, age, disability and so much more, the World Bank and Microsoft Philanthropy are taking the responsibility to effect positive social and economic change for people and their communities for the future.

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Hannah Mareko

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