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What Is The State of AI? A New Report Has the Answers
Blog Feature

By: Ashley Sams

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January 11th, 2018

What Is The State of AI? A New Report Has the Answers

The share of US job openings requiring AI skills has grown 4.5X since 2013, as reported in the Artificial Intelligence Index 2017 Annual Report. This includes positions such as engineers, researchers, data scientists, developers, and more. In fact, a quick search on Indeed.com for “artificial intelligence will give you a good idea of the overwhelming amount of job openings currently available.

Artificial intelligence is taking over work as we know it. But we’re largely “flying blind,” say the creators of the report. They should know: the people who wrote the Artificial Intelligence Index 2017 Annual Report are part of a one hundred year study on AI at Stanford University. The initiative “aims to facilitate an informed conversation about AI that is grounded in data.”

Boy, does this report deliver on that promise. Its 100+ pages are packed with data and insights from a team of experts from Stanford University, MIT, Bloomberg, Harvard University, and Microsoft. The result is a comprehensive guide for marketers, executives, and policymakers on how artificial intelligence will impact industry, employment, and life as we know it.

The full report is well worth a read. But if you don’t have the time right now to dive in, we’ve extracted the top takeaways for marketers and businesspeople.

1. State of the AI Industry

By examining trends in both academia and the industry, the AI Index team was able to qualify the liveliness of AI as a field. To explore the relationship, they compared AI paper publishing, combined enrollments in AI and machine learning introductory courses at Stanford University, and VC investments into AI-related startups. This resulted in the AI Vibrancy Index, a chart illustrating the general interest and enthusiasm for AI throughout the industry and academia.

Initially, academia led the way with steadily increasing course enrollment and publishing. However, investors started taking increased notice of the field in 2010, causing VC investments to skyrocket in 2013. Today, involvement from the academic world and the industry have both grown an average of 7X their size, confirming the overwhelming interest in AI.

This is clear proof that marketers need to understand and get involved with AI today. Read up, watch YouTube videos, and enroll in online courses to start, while taking care to cut through the hype. From there, marketers should begin experimenting with AI tools and solutions to fit their business needs. We’ve outlined three groups of people who can help you get started.

Also, subscribe to the Marketing AI Institute to stay on the cutting edge of AI applications in marketing.

2. The Wild West of AI Startups

As of today, active US startups developing AI systems has increased 14X since the year 2000, according to the report. In that time, annual VC investment has grown 6X.

With so many companies popping up, it’s no wonder that many of them are being acquired by larger tech companies. Combining efforts gives startups the financial support to function more productively and it enables the buyers to enhance their existing products, all while snapping up scarce AI talent.

In fact, deals to AI startups grew 4.6X since 2012, according to data from CB Insights that is not included in the AI Index report.

Marketers should expect to see more AI startups for more use cases in the coming 12-24 months. But they should also expect their favorite large companies, firms like HubSpot and Salesforce, to buy AI startups and integrate their capabilities into their own platforms.

3. Filling Seats for AI and Machine Learning

The number of students enrolled in introductory courses related to artificial intelligence and machine learning has soared. Georgia Tech enrolled 1,054 students in AI-related courses in 2016, a 5X increase over the last five years, according to the AI Index report. Stanford University, Berkeley and the University of Washington have all seen a 2X increase in AI enrollment since then too.

Additionally, courses in machine learning at Stanford, Berkeley and Carnegie Mellon University each had between 800-1,000 enrolled students in the 2016 academic year. While this data only represents a small piece of the higher education landscape, it is an indicator of the level of academia’s interest in AI.

The shortage of talent and the abundance of job openings could be big drivers here, as firms in most industries are demanding AI talent, but relatively few AI and machine learning experts exist. These rockstars often end up working for lucrative contracts at major internet firms like Google and Facebook, leaving a scarcity of talent for non-Silicon Valley firms.

Marketers won’t need to become coders to leverage AI, but they do need to hit the books and understand foundational AI concepts. They should consider in-depth online courses to start. Many top universities offer online “Introduction to AI” courses at varying times throughout the year. Instructional platforms such as Coursera and Udemy also offer a variety of AI courses for marketers with and without coding skills.

We recommend checking out these 17 online AI courses to get started.

The entire AI Index report is worth a read, and the team plans to release one annually over the 100-year lifespan of the project. After all, artificial intelligence is here to stay. Marketers need to get ready for the age of AI.

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About Ashley Sams

Ashley Sams is a consultant at PR 20/20. She joined the agency in 2017 with a background in marketing, specifically for higher education and social media. Ashley is a 2015 graduate of The University of Mount Union where she earned a degree in marketing.

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