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Demand overwhelms supply of engineers in AI
January 4, 2018, 4:57 pm

Around the world, tech giants regularly complain about the difficulty hiring AI engineers, and the demand has pushed salaries to absurd heights. Individuals with just a few years of experience can expect basic pay of between $300,000 and $500,000 a year, says The New York Times, while the very best will collect millions. It is estimated that there are only around 10,000 individuals with the requisite skills to spearhead serious AI projects. A new report shows that the bottleneck is caused by a dearth in education.

It estimates that 200,000 of the 300,000 active researchers are already employed in various industries (not just tech), while the remaining 100,000 are still studying. Attendance in machine learning and AI courses has skyrocketed in recent years, as has enrollment in online courses, but there is obviously a lag as individuals complete their education. Interestingly, as well as estimating the industry’s shortfall in talent, the report also speculates about the global competition to develop and deploy it.

Experts in the US warn that America is falling behind rivals like China in the so-called global AI race. The report itself identifies the US, China, Japan, and UK as key players, with Israel and Canada also warranting mentions. Canada, it says, has strong educational background, which has attracted many big companies to launch research labs there, while the UK is best on the ‘ethical and legal aspects’ of AI, and Japan takes the lead in robotics. But the US, remains currently ‘far ahead’ in terms of global talent, with more universities teaching machine learning and related subjects than any other nation, and more AI startups.

The report estimates that America is home to more than 1,000 of the world’s total of 2,600, while China has nearly 600. The Chinese government has stated its policy ambition of becoming a world leader in AI by 2030 — a goal that many think is achievable.

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