The National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) will be hosting this week a special half-day workshop as part of the annual HITEC conference entitled “Responsible AI: Challenges and Best Practices for Integrating Ethics in Your IT Program.” Faculty attendees from across the country will learn practical strategies and best practices for adding data science ethics curriculum to their IT programs. The workshop will be led by Aaron Burciaga, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at ECS and a longtime member of the CTC’s Business and Industry Leadership Team. Aaron has long advocated that two-year community colleges develop programs to deliver technicians skills urgently needed in the data science and AI workforce.
To that end, Aaron recently completed a series of articles for Forbes discussing what he calls the “Blue Collar AI” workforce. You can read Why We Need a Blue Collar AI Workforce; How to Advance Blue-Collar AI ; and Scaling Blue Collar AI Ethically and Sustainably. You can also take a look at a presentation Aaron delivered earlier this year on Blue Collar AI.
Some key points of Aaron’s perspective on data science and AI technicians:
* There is not enough skilled talent to fill the booming demand for AI and data science technician jobs.
* Educators and employers must “abandon the flawed idea” that these jobs can only be filled by holders of high-level post-baccalaureate degrees with big salaries.
* Many – if not most – AI and data science jobs can be filled by graduates with associate’s degrees.
* Three categories of “blue collar” technicians should be developed in the workplace and in colleges: the data farmer who cultivates the data, the data miner who extracts critical data for business needs, and the data welder who connects data through operations, analytics, and applications.
* Workers interested in the AI space should focus on “improving your skills to become an indispensable horse or ox instead of a mythical unicorn.”
* The answer is not to simply create more master’s degree holders and PhDs. The answer is to create a balanced pyramid with a base of “blue collar” technicians – created through K-12 and community college programs – that support layers of more experienced workers with bachelor’s degrees and capped by a much smaller number of higher-level employees.
* Ethics must be taught, discussed, and enforced throughout every program. One good way to do this is through frequent and detailed case study analysis.
* Every organization working in AI needs to define its vision, identify its ethical values (i.e., accountable or impartial), and establish oversight.
If you’re an IT faculty member interested in attending the Tuesday, July 20 “Responsible AI” workshop, email Mark Dempsey. Space is limited.