OpenAI may grab all the headlines, but Amazon has been quietly toiling on AI across all its divisions and even using AI-powered robots in its warehouses. Now, in a bid to expand the AI talent pool, the company is launching a free program called "AI Ready," with the aim of providing generative AI training to two million people globally by 2025.
Consisting of eight free courses, the classes will be available through Amazon's learning website and offered to non-Amazon employees as well. They'll teach people AI skills including the generative AI technology that powers ChatGPT and other language models.
They're designed for beginners and advanced users in both tech and tech-adjacent roles. Three courses are aimed at business and nontechnical users, while five are designed for developer and technical audiences. Along with the classes, Amazon announced that it's providing Udacity scholarships valued at more than $12 million to more than 50,000 high school and university students from underrepresented communities around the world.
"The goal of AI Ready is to help level the playing field of AI education, supported by the new initiatives we're launching here today," said AWS VP of data and AI, Swami Sivasubramanian. "If we are going to unlock the full potential of AI to tackle the world’s most challenging problems, we need to make AI education accessible to anyone with a desire to learn."
AI technology has been in use for some time now in field ranging from medical research to retail customer assistance — but it really exploded with the launch of OpenAI's ChatGPT virtual assistant. The field is still in its teething stages and systems are notoriously complex, however, so there's a serious shortage of qualified programmers, technicians and others. Amazon notes that 73 percent of employers say that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority, but three of four are unable to find qualified people.
Amazon said its aim is to "democratize" generative AI education, noting that the program will benefit not just its own employees but its enterprise customers who seek workers with prompt engineering and other skills. It could also help AWS (Amazon Web Service) customers as several courses are based on its own platforms including Amazon Bedrock AI and Amazon CodeWhisperer, a tool that automatically generates code.