Artificial intelligence (AI) is the science of making intelligent machines and addresses the challenges of having machines find solutions to complex problems in a human-like fashion
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the science of making intelligent machines and addresses the challenges of having machines find solutions to complex problems in a human-like fashion. The field of AI, like the careers it produces, is diverse, fragmented and difficult to identify comprehensively. This fragmentation is due in part to the absence of a unifying theory for AI. The field is governed by multiple theories of the way humans think and the best way to represent this process in an intelligent system. As a consequence, there are multiple approaches, tools and contexts in which they are applied.
An intelligent system deals with real world environments where often only imprecise and incomplete information is available. These systems can be applied in a number of fields including military applications such as target identification, in entertainment such as digital games and robotic pets and in business where banks, hospitals, and insurance companies and other organizations that collect vast amounts of data, use AI to predict consumer behavior.
All job categories in information technology and computer science are potentially open to students with AI backgrounds. Job titles include systems analyst, systems programmer, systems designer and software developer. Information technology and computer science professionals with AI backgrounds are especially sought by companies that develop operating systems, expert systems, telecommunication systems and control systems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 67% of computer programmers held a college or higher degree in 2004.1 A review of online job sites revealed that job openings that specify artificial intelligence backgrounds overwhelmingly require advanced graduate training, frequently at the doctoral level. In one job posting, a Ph.D. in an AI related field was considered the equivalent of ten years of post-masters degree experience.
Due to the education requirements and high degree of specialization, AI-related jobs are well compensated with salaries for senior developers ranging from $90,000 to $200,000. Entry level AI programmers with four-year degrees start at $50,000 and reach $70,000 to $80,000 after a couple of years.
AI jobs cover a number of fields but entry-level tasks in any given field may include equipment programming, product testing, execution of technical projects, record keeping, research, engineering tasks, information management and development of software programs.
The principle knowledge of an AI professional is an understanding of how humans learn, structure and use knowledge including:
The applications for AI knowledge are diverse but the general areas in which AI professionals are skilled fall into a few general categories:
All of these application areas require study in math, physics, computer science, engineering and cognitive science. Specific programming languages/tools include Java, C/C++, Lisp, Python and Prolog.
Designing and installing AI systems or AI components of information systems. Analyze potential application to determine if AI system could fulfill a purpose and how that purpose can best be achieved. Design AI components of information system to a given specification. Good communication skills, ability to work within a team, problem solving skills and to keep up with a rapidly evolving field through independent study. Military and defense-related positions frequently require security clearance.
AI used to be solely the purview of Ph.Ds. As the field of AI continues to evolve and formalize barriers to entry are reduced. Jobs are increasingly available to candidates with four-year degrees. When advances in AI will lead to job opportunities requiring less formal education is uncertain.
In December 2005, Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Knoxville, Tennessee, inaugurated an introduction to artificial intelligence course as part of its computer science curriculum. The course covers robotics, neural networks and evolutionary hardware. The rational for offering the course is that “Today's computer programmers will likely become the neural network technicians of the future.”2
Big Bend Community College, Moses Lake, Washington, offers a course in artificial intelligence as part of its computer science curriculum; however, it is only mentioned in the context of guiding students who wish to transfer to four-year institutions to receive bachelors degrees. The suggested computer science courses for students interested in certificates or two-year degrees do not include artificial intelligence explicitly.
Texas State Technical College Waco and Harlingen campuses offer two courses in artificial intelligence programming as part of the gaming and simulation specialization in computer science. According to the WECM, course goals are “knowledge representation and interference techniques, expert systems, pathfinding algorithms and search techniques for problem solving.”
AI has a very limited presence in community college curricula. However, there are approximately 120 universities in North America that have AI research programs and associated curricula.
Recommendation: Continue Tracking
As the AI job market evolves and AI systems are integrated into more processes and products, potential job opportunities for technician employment may emerge.
Jobs: Not Promising
Most employers specify a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree, in some cases with strong preferences for postgraduate work.
AI used to be solely the purview of Ph.Ds. As the field of AI continues to evolve and formalize barriers to entry are reduced. Jobs are increasingly available to candidates with four-year degrees.
When advances in AI will lead to job opportunities requiring less formal education is uncertain.
CTC Relevance: Increasing
A handful of community and technical colleges have incorporated AI courses into computer science or game development AAS degrees.
AI applications are currently somewhat limited.
This report examines Advanced Digital Manufacturing, Hybrid Vehicles, Micro-electromechanical Systems, and Computer Forensics and related core technical principles, applications, trends, implications, curriculum and potential employment of each of these four topics.
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