Eduardo Gonzalez and Lim Chia Wei

In a move to supercharge its development as the artificial Intelligence (AI) ecosystem pioneer, the Skymind Group of Companies is on the hunt for 300 talents to form a unique ‘AI Dream Team’ in Asia following its expansion into Malaysia.

During a webinar held yesterday, Skymind chief innovation officer Eduardo Gonzalez (left in pic) and Certifai founder Lim Chia Wei (who is also with Skymind) opened up about how the group is on a mission to provide inclusive and sustainable talent development initiatives. The aim is to build upon Malaysia’s talent pipeline, while cultivating industry-ready graduates in the burgeoning field of AI. The session was moderated by Project Girls for Girls International co-founder Izzana Salleh.

Skymind helps enterprises around the world with open-source AI tools as well as a global venture fund to fuel AI innovation as part of its role to build the global ecosystem. Key pointers in the introduction included the phrase: “Skymind sees great AI talent potential in Southeast Asia.”

Skymind is a pioneer of open-source AI and Machine Learning (ML) based upon its deep-learning platform Deeplearning4j. It enables developers and large organisations to build deep learning applications, covering the whole deep learning workflow from data pre- processing through distributed training and hyperparameter optimisation and production-grade deployment.

The goal of Deeplearning4j is to provide a core set of components for building applications that incorporate AI. This is because, AI products within an enterprise often have a wider scope than just machine learning, and is able to provide smart defaults for building deep learning applications.

Currently, more than 350 of Fortune 500 companies are said to be using Skymind technologies.

Raising the Bar

Eduardo believes that the AI industry is fast growing and could touch USD$2.9 trillion globally by 2021, and US$15 trillion by 2030.

That said, these estimates are pre-Covid-19 pandemic numbers. “The pandemic has sent AI and digital adoption into hyperdrive.”

“AI fundamentals remain uniform regardless of industry sector,” explained Eduardo.

Discussing the different roles in AI, Chia Wei responded that machine learning workflow of various processes will give an idea of AI roles required. Essentially, these roles comprise data scientists, engineers and AI annotation roles.

Hence, the key to maintaining career employability and security in the fast evolving digital era rests on keeping in tune with the different roles posted by hiring managers.

“Proper training in AI and machine learning rests on human talent and skills such as problem solving and innovative thinking in industry,” said Chia Wei, adding that AI professionals must feel comfortable working with data.

In response to a question about digital bubbles being burst in the past, Eduardo said: “Deep learning has helped to evade an ‘AI winter thus far’.”

“To get started in any field, scope down on what is required and stay focused. If you are not technical, you can still get a career in AI, provided you have an understanding of AI’s potential to enterprises and ‘selling’ or explaining AI’s pros and cons to a company,” said Chia Wei.

Eduardo said there are many different disciplines in the AI chain. “Companies require data. Often, companies do not keep their data. So you will need consultants to highlight gaps and data gathering initiatives. For example, private data needs an understanding of ethical and privacy issues, and companies will need assistance to stay on the right side of compliance requirements.”

Eduardo also mentioned that Skymind Global Ventures recently announced a USD800 million fund to fuel AI innovation from its London headquarters. “Six startups have already been selected and Skymind is looking forward to nurturing more innovation in the coming months.”

The Talent Hub

Chia Wei emphasised that learning by doing is one of the fastest routes to getting to grips with an AI career. “There is a really steep learning curve at Skymind and getting to grips with many different projects are among the perks at the company. We are at the leading edge of AI.”

Eduardo also shared a video within the webinar of Skymind’s multiple AI use cases from across the world. “This is why we need 300 talents; the technology is applicable through a wide variety of industries. We are making real AI solutions to solve companies business problems. AI depends on the data.”

This was followed by Chia Wei’s video of AI to help people maintain social distancing in the New Normal, “a project with much potential that was developed in 8 hours by an engineer.”

Skymind’s determination to drive the AI revolution is also both demonstrated and underpinned by its steps to create a global Talent Hub from Malaysia with the aim of fast-tracking talent growth in the region.

To meet the demand for AI talent, Skymind is prioritising the social as well as economic benefit and impact from a locally nurtured pool of AI talent.

Accelerating the growth of the talent pool in Malaysia is aligned to the growth of AI adoption by Malaysia-based companies and organisations. What is critical is a comprehensive and sustainable talent development pipeline for the global AI ecosystem.

Consequently, Skymind’s vision and aim is being fuelled by tight focus on talent employability especially at tertiary levels buoyed by certification programmes and curriculum integration into Higher Learning Institutes (IHLs) through tech and non-tech courses.

The Dream Team is another stride forward in cultivating a much-needed talent hub from this region. Among the tips offered by Eduardo and Chia Wei included online free courses from MIT and Stanford.

Regarding Skymind’s work culture, Eduardo, who works from the Japan office, said that he enjoys working a variety of companies. “There are so many opportunities that you don’t want to clock out! – but I believe in balance – so that you can rest and remain innovative.”

Much of the world has now entered a critical phase in the digital transformation journey. As AI ecosystem leader, Skymind is set on a global mission to wisely unite human intelligence with AI, while being laser focused on bettering both business and society.

Source: BusinessToday