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The AI talent pool is shallow. But, just how shallow is it? According to this article on Bloomberg, in December 2017, Tencent Holdings Ltd., the Chinese internet conglomerate, published its findings that put the estimate of global AI talent at 200,000 to 300,000 people who were either AI researchers or industry practitioners.

Element AI, a startup based in Montreal, Canada, then published a second set of figures putting the figure at “about 22,000 PhD-educated researchers working on AI.” Element AI had published an earlier study that was revised after Tencent’s findings came out.

The battle for scarce AI talent

No one is quite sure what the actual figure is. But one thing is sure — AI talent is scarce and most of the best hands are getting snapped up by the Silicon Valley tech giants. The reason is clear — the tech giants offer better financial incentives. The tech giants often offer AI talent ownership stakes and the prospect of becoming employed millionaires within a short time. Data scientists, machine learning engineers, and business intelligence developers are some of the most sought after AI jobs.

According to a New York Times report, “Typical A.I. specialists, including both Ph.D.s fresh out of school and people with less education and just a few years of experience, can be paid from $300,000 to $500,000 a year or more in salary and company stock.”

WorkFusion, a firm that offers intelligent automation solutions, is one of the companies that have quickly recognised the scarcity and need for AI talent and solutions. To ameliorate this challenge, WorkFusion offers solutions of different scales, both for enterprises and small businesses so they too can be relevant in the present and the future.

China is also investing in developing AI talent, not just snapping up those on-ground. Earlier in 2018, the Chinese government announced plans for an AI industrial park that will cost $2.1 billion. This is the government’s first major step towards become a world leader in Artificial Intelligence by 2030.

The Chinese government is also calling for increased AI education in primary and middle schools across the country, so that the foundation for the future can be properly laid.

While the talent is scarce right now, it is obvious that AI is a vital part of the future workplace. Anyone who wants to remain relevant in a few years must recognize this and take steps to jump on the ship if they haven’t already.

What to do to join the AI talent pool

1. Embrace Data Science

Jean-Francois Gagne, co-founder and CEO of Element AI, says that “the [AI] talent shortage would gradually be alleviated as more universities teach data science and how to build AI solutions at undergraduate and master’s levels.” This thinking aligns with the perceived rise in demand for data science courses online.

Data Science is important to the Artificial Intelligence field because statistical machine learning uses the same math as data science. At their core, they are very related.

Embracing data science is a good entry point into the AI talent pool. But it is not enough.

2. Find out the intersection between Artificial Intelligence and your current career path

Except you’ve been living somewhere within the Bermuda Triangle and you only just made it out miraculously (congratulations to you), then you already know that AI is the future. You also know that it will shake up most existing jobs and change the way we work. What makes all this knowledge count is how familiar you are with the trends and ways that AI will impact your career path and journey.

Even if you are only a small business owner and are not looking for a traditional job, you need to be aware of the ways AI will impact your business. The job you’re doing right now will look different in the near future, as soon as 2020, and you need to do something about that.

3. Learn, learn, and acquire machine learning skills

After acquainting yourself with the possible ways AI can impact your career, you then need to develop the skills you need to adapt and thrive. Apart from data science courses, you need to learn how machine learning works and acquire the skills needed to make it work.

If your goal is to work in a big company, then you need to know what the future of enterprise Artificial Intelligence looks like. You can do this by signing up for this webinar on this topic.

The rewards for joining the AI talent pool are immense. You get to become a member of an elite club, while also positioning yourself as one of the most important people in the global development race, in these times.