LinkedIn is teaching all its engineers AI skills

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Rather than pay its employees six-figure salaries, LinkedIn is teaching all its engineers valuable AI skills.

Earlier today, our sister publication Developer reported on the AI skill shortage driving employers to offer six-figure salaries to candidates. Most companies do not like, or can afford, to offer their employees such a high salary.

LinkedIn is in a better situation financially than a startup wanting to delve into AI, especially since the Microsoft acquisition, but it’s taking a different approach to ensuring it doesn’t suffer from a lack of relevant skills.

The company has launched an AI academy which aims to train all of its engineers in the basics of AI. This will ensure its staff can deploy intelligent models in its products wherever it could be of benefit.

“The demand for AI across the company has increased enormously,” Deepak Agarwal, the head of artificial intelligence at LinkedIn, said during an onstage interview at VB Summit 2017 today. “Everyone wants to have AI as a component of their product.” So how do we scale the workforce is a big thing that keeps me up at night.”

Being a social network, there are plenty of opportunities where AI can be used. Just like Facebook, AI can be used from things such as improving contact recommendations, to reducing the amount of spam posted on the site.

“AI is like oxygen at LinkedIn, it permeates every single member experience,” Agarwal said. “And just to give you an idea of the scale, we process more than 2PB of data both nearline and offline every single day.”

So far, six engineers have made it through the academy. Rather than teach how AI works to pursue it as a career, it’s being taught in the context of how to utilise it for the company’s operations.

Should more companies train employees in AI? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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