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AI success:'s online deep learning courses are popular in India

Since its inception the San Francisco-based education nonprofit has attracted more than 100,000 students, scattered around the globe from India to China.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   05-11-2018

AI success

As companies push into new technologies, they are finding it harder to find engineers and researchers in artificial intelligence. A branch of AI known as deep learning, which uses neural networks to churn through large volumes of data looking for patterns, has proved so useful that skilled practitioners can command six-figure salaries to build software for Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. The top names can earn over $1 million a year.

The standard route into these high-paying jobs has been a PhD in computer science from one of America’s top universities. Of course, earning a PhD takes years and requires a serious academic disposition. Not surprisingly, there’s a massive talent crunch and universities are waking up to the surging demand for AI courses.

MIT to invest $1 billion in new AI college
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which has always been on the bleeding edge of technology, announced a $1 billion initiative last month to build a new college of computing to train the next generation of AI and machine learning whiz kids.

The new Schwarzman College of Computing is coming up as MIT can hardly keep pace with surging industry demand for scarce AI talent. Currently, typical AI specialists, including PhDs from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and engineers fresh from other elite schools with a few years of AI experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock for working on AI projects linked to things like face-scanning smart phones, computerized health care and self-driving cars.

Tech companies like Facebook and Google have plenty of money to throw around and problems that they think AI can help solve, like building digital assistants for smart phones, home gadgets and spotting offensive content. “Solving tough AI problems is not like building the flavor-of-the-month smart phone app. In the entire world, fewer than 10,000 people have the skills necessary to tackle serious artificial intelligence research, according to Element AI, an independent lab in Montreal,” reported “The New York Times.”

Carnegie Mellon University
With so few AI specialists available, big tech companies are also hiring the best and brightest of academia. In the process, they are limiting the number of professors who can teach the technology. Uber Technologies Inc left Carnegie Mellon University scrambling to recover after it poached 40 of its prized researchers and scientists in 2015 to work on its self-driving-car project. The raid almost left one of the world’s top robotics research institutions in a crisis.’s online courses alleviate talent shortage
To train new AI engineers, nonprofits like and companies like, founded by a former Stanford professor who helped create the Google Brain lab, offer online courses.

In August this year, a small team of student AI coders from, a small education non-profit based in San Francisco that runs free machine-learning courses online, just created an AI algorithm that outperformed code from Google’s researchers, according to an important benchmark.’s success is important because it sometimes seems as if only those with huge resources can do advanced AI research.’s student coders built an algorithm that beat Google’s code, as measured using a benchmark called DAWNBench, from researchers at Stanford. This benchmark uses a common image classification task to track the speed of a deep-learning algorithm per dollar of compute power. consists of part-time students keen to try their hand at machine learning. This month kicked off the third year of its courses in deep learning.

“State-of-the-art results are not the exclusive domain of big companies,” Jeremy Howard, one of’s founders and a prominent AI entrepreneur, told the MIT Technology Review.

Howard and his co-founder, mathematician Rachel Thomas, created to make artificial intelligence more accessible. They have taken steps to democratized AI education and make it less the exclusive preserve of the Ivory Tower of academia. inspires Indian coders’s courses focused on teaching how to build AI software can be completed in just seven weeks.

“Since its inception it has attracted more than 100,000 students, scattered around the globe from India to Nigeria,” reported “The Economist. “The course and others like it come with a simple proposition: there is no need to spend years obtaining a PhD in order to practice deep learning.”

Coders from places like India have been inspired by the success of coders from A graduate from’s first year, Sara Hooker, was hired into Google’s highly competitive AI residency program after finishing the course, having never worked on deep learning before. According to “The Economist,” Hooker is now a founding member of Google’s new AI research office in Accra, Ghana.

“I work with an A.I company in Bangalore. All our new personnel typically go through the course. It provides great fundamentals and brings them up to speed relatively quickly in a fun and engaging manner,” Karthik Raj posted on a study group board.

In Bangalore, some 2,400 people are members of AI Saturdays, which follows the course together as a gigantic study group.



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