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Artificial Intelligence Skills Gap Revealed in O’Reilly Survey

The 2018 Artificial Intelligence (AI) survey, “How Companies Are Putting AI to Work Through Deep Learning” explores the adoption of tools and techniques used to build AI applications. It also addresses the barriers that are slowing business adoption of AI. The survey was conducted by technology and business training firm O’Reilly and focuses on deep learning which is part of a broader family of machine learning methods.

The survey most notably reveals the existence of an AI skills gap which is viewed as the leading barrier in enterprise AI adoption and usage.  The shortage of AI-trained engineers and developers is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Alongside the existing skills gap is the democratization of AI and deep learning applications that is being achieved through ongoing improvement in development tools and libraries.  

The survey findings also show that 54% of respondents believe AI will play a big role (35%) or essential role (19%) in their organization’s future projects.  Other key findings include:

  • Deep learning is being used by 28% of respondents, but 71% do not.
  • Those using deep learning are focusing on how to make sense of structured or semi-structured data or text.
  • The application of deep learning garnering the greatest interest (13%) is computer vision to gain a high-level understanding from digital images or videos.
  • Outside of the skills gap, other barriers include hardware and compute resources, data related challenges, company resources and culture, and accuracy and efficiency of DL models.
  • A significant majority (75%) indicated that their company is using an in-house or external AI training program.
  • TensorFlow, an open-source software library for dataflow programming, is the most popular AI-tool cited with 73% in some level of usage.
  • Cloud services are seen as integral to the applications being built by 70%

“Despite some claims that AI is over-hyped, these results show that we can expect more companies to use deep learning to improve their own products and services in the coming year,” said Ben Lorica, O'Reilly chief data scientist and AI Conference chair.  Lorica also sees the skills gap as spurring training as companies seek to build their own staff.

O’Reilly and Intel are hosting the upcoming AI Conference being held in New York City from April 29 – May 2.  Conference registration is now open.