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The Next Decade

Unparalleled Growth Rate, Everything Will Be Wired

Artificial Intelligence may be half a century old, but it is not a mature or aging field. With every new discovery in science or technology, researchers and scientists find fresh ways to apply computer technology to the discovery. AI will continue to find its way into every facet of life around the globe, attempting to make things more efficient for mankind.

SmartMoney magazine named AI careers in a group of “the Next Hot Jobs” in 2002, saying, “Artificial Intelligence used to be the stuff of sci-fi novels. Now it has spread from androids into all sorts of everyday fields, each of which is booming. Smart homes. Airport surveillance. Voice-recognition software. ATMs.”

Joanna Alexander, co-CEO of Seattle video game producer Zombie, said demand for more AI programmers in her industry alone will be boundless. “You have to build in a personality, responses, and realistic behavior for any characters you encounter,” she said. “And games are only going to become more complex and more realistic.”

Salaries in AI jobs typically start at $50,000 and climb to $70,000 to $80,000 after a few years. In most cases, applicants should have a four-year degree in either computer science with an AI specialty, or in mechanical or electrical engineering with a focus on robotics. Students now studying AI in college will find jobs undreamed of during their freshmen year. With more and more corporations devoting time and money to research, the job horizon is said to be exceptionally bright and promising.

“The future will involve many things, including machine learning. As a technique, this is probably the technique that has the most diverse array of applications. As you start thinking of careers, having a good background in machine learning will help you as you look at different careers,” Google's Dr. Daniel Clancy said. “AI is becoming commonplace within almost all industries, from data mining to Amazon. The space companies like GE and Lockheed-Martin will use AI as a piece of the puzzle.”

Dr. Clancy encourages students to consider a full range of AI applications, however, because it works with many other parallel systems. “Students need to understand a set of techniques to place AI in a proper context,” he said. “They need to look at solving hard problems as opposed to being fixated with a particular approach to solving problems.”

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