What comes to mind when you hear the phrase Artificial Intelligence (AI)? In mainstream science fiction, AI has sometimes been portrayed as projects gone wrong — think HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey or the AI swarm from the Matrix. Alternatively, they are also portrayed as actual beings with emotions — think Samantha from Her, Wall-E in Wall-E, Yui in SAO.
While we have not achieved such states of AI, the technology today is already pervasive in our daily lives. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you search via Google, watch videos on YouTube, and stream music on Spotify. Such apps have been inextricably weaved into our daily lives since the early 21st century.
What these apps have in common is this — they’re all applications of AI.
Consider this: Apps such as YouTube and Spotify recommend content that matches your interests, while a Google search on ‘apple’ will generate results on the company, not the fruit. These apps build algorithms based on the accumulated data of the content you consume to tailor recommendations accordingly.
Basically, you can think of AI as super hardcore consumers of data and analysers of patterns.
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And here are reasons why it is worth considering charting a career in AI.
1: AI has officially entered the mainstream
Most technological trends are related to AI or have been enhanced by it.
So what’s great about AI? It enables complex tasks to be performed autonomously alongside humans. Think voice assistants Siri and Alexa, self-driving cars like Tesla, Spot the robotic dog that reminds park-goers to practice safe distancing, and investment robo-advisors.
AI can be human’s trusty sidekicks by alleviating us of menial and repetitive tasks, and providing quality and value to our jobs.
The broad applicability of AI to the overall economy is proven in a recent survey that revealed 1 in 2 Singaporean companies increasing their AI adoption rate due to COVID-19. More specifically, they are seeking to adopt AI in the spheres of employee productivity, data security, supply chain and logistics, data processing and sales.
In line with this trend, Singapore is aiming to train 25,000 AI-proficient professionals by 2025.
2: Take advantage of a swiftly growing market
The advent of AI is poised to take the global job market by storm. Ever heard of technological unemployment? That’s when new technology disrupts the market and renders many jobs irrelevant. There is both good and bad news.
According to the Future of Jobs Report 2020, 85 million jobs across 26 countries will be displaced by 2025 as a result of automation. However, there’s no need to be Luddites just yet! For every job displaced by technological advancements, a new one has risen to take its place. The same report mentions that 97 million jobs will be created across the 26 countries in place of the ones rendered obsolete.
Now, considering the projected fast growth of AI, you can expect that big investments are being made to enable its adoption across various sectors. According to an August 2021 report by the International Data Corporation (IDC), worldwide spending on AI systems is expected to jump from US$85.3 billion in 2021 to more than US$204 billion in 2025. Specifically for Singapore, S$680 million has been committed to accelerate AI research over the past two years.
Naturally, no effort is being spared to groom our new AI professionals as well. The national AI programme, AI Singapore, has endorsed the launch of the Singapore Institute of Technology’s (SIT) new three-year programme, Bachelor of Science with Honours in Applied Artificial Intelligence (AAI). The programme is set to commence in September 2022.
3: Shape the world
Fei-Fei Li, a professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, had this to say about AI: “As a technologist, I see how AI and the fourth industrial revolution will impact every aspect of people’s lives.”
The first industrial revolution saw the rise of railroads, the second, the telephone, the automobile and the plane, and the third, electronics and computers. Just into the third millennium, the fourth industrial revolution is on course to impact society as much as its predecessors did. Alongside technologies like virtual reality, AI is a notable player steadily gaining traction in this revolution.
By studying AI, you’ll have a front-seat view as history is written.
4: Expect excellent prospects
According to salary estimates by Payscale, the average annual pay for a data scientist in Singapore is at S$78,000, and machine learning specialists earn a similar sum at S$77,500 — well above the average base annual salary of S$54,000.
About SIT’s Applied Artificial Intelligence degree programme
Through core training in software engineering, machine learning and professional skills, the AAI programme aims to provide a strong talent pipeline of AI engineers proficient in developing, deploying and maintaining AI systems across multiple industry sectors.
The curriculum features core training in software engineering and machine learning, and exposes students to real-world industry problems across different domains. There will be an eight-month Integrated Work Study Programme (IWSP) and a final year capstone project that will deepen students’ real-world experience.
Interdisciplinary learning and transferable skills are also infused into the curriculum to ensure graduates successes at their workplaces.