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Artificial Intelligence and the Job Market

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If the applications of artificial intelligence fascinate you, then you might want to consider working in this diverse field. But what do you do to prepare for a future career in AI? According to the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), “There are many types of jobs and careers involving AI, but two of the usual dichotomies are: academic vs. industrial jobs, and research vs. application jobs.” In all cases, a solid preparation in the tools of the trade is recommended, including programming languages, algorithm design, operating systems, data structures, logic and mathematics, probability theory and statistics, and the specialized topics covered in AI courses. These subjects are standard courses in most undergraduate and graduate computer science programs.

But understanding AI requires more than computer programming abilities. In fact, the AAAI states that many careers in AI, especially those in an academic or industrial setting, will likely require more advanced degrees beyond a BS or BA. In some cases, on-the-job training that helps to explain instructional systems and basic robotics might help a person become more competitive in the field of AI.

Video and computer games currently remain one of the most popular applications of AI. In order to create games with characters that “think” like humans do, programmers work with AI technology to simulate our world. The first effective use of AI in computer gaming was used in first-person combat games such as Doom. Neural networks, like those discussed in chapter 2, evolved to heightening a game's degree of difficulty. The network, imitating the human brain, gauges the player's tactics and responds to counter them, thus creating new challenges. Games such as The Sims and Civilization have been built from neural networks.

In a survey at the 1999 Game Developers Conference, 60 percent of the attendees at a roundtable meeting reported their projects included one or more dedicated AI programmers, up from 46 percent in 1998, and 24 percent in 1997. These percentages are only expected to increase in the future.

At the 2006 Game Developers Conference, there was as much discussion over the technical side of creating games. Topics included complex data mapping production techniques in 3-D, advanced light and shadow culling methods, and present and future techniques in AI.

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