Seizing Miami's AI Future
👩🏻💻👨🏿💻🧑🏼💻 Miami Dade College is democratizing AI education
WATCH: Democratizing AI Education
Miami Dade College is offering associate degrees in AI this fall, and a bachelor's degree by next year. Learn more about the curriculum that will shape Miami’s future workforce in this interview.
Artificial Intelligence is “quite possibly the most important - and best - thing our civilization has created,” Silicon Valley venture capitalist Marc Andreessen argued earlier this summer in a post entitled, “Why AI will save the world.”
Of course, AI has people worried too. A host of notable entrepreneurs and computer scientists signed an open letter asking for a pause in AI development, writing “Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.”
Closer to home, last month the US Chamber of Commerce published a report warning that Miami ranks second among all U.S. cities for potential job losses as a result of AI.
But, whether you’re optimistic or concerned, we know this: AI will be a fundamental part of our lives. The cities with workforces that have a greater understanding of AI and an ability to use it in smart ways will benefit the most.
With that in mind, Miami Dade College is pioneering an effort in artificial intelligence education. In March, MDC announced its first associate degree in applied artificial intelligence in Florida. Then last month it launched Florida’s first Bachelor of Science in Applied Artificial Intelligence. In both cases, the programs rank among the first in the country.
Remarkably, the AI courses at MDC this Fall are free for Miami-Dade County residents as a result of the Javier Coto Scholarship funded by the Miami-Dade County government.
For our latest Opportunity Miami Interview, we sat down with Aaron Burciaga, Co-Founder and CEO of DataPrime, who is helping to design the AI curriculum for Miami Dade College that launches later this month as the fall semester begins.
“I have been to MIT, I have been to Northwestern, I have seen the artificial intelligence centers they have, and what Miami Dade has created is just as good, if not better,” said Burciaga, who also serves on the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee at the college.
You watch the Interview here.
In many respects, the power and possibility of AI weren’t broadly understood until the first version of ChatGPT by OpenAI was launched in late November. Typing in questions that prompted thoughtful, essay-long answers suddenly made real the numerous ways that AI can change our lives - from diagnosing a person's medical condition to educational tools that adapt to a student's learning style to optimizing energy consumption in an office building to reduce energy waste.
Yet, computers being able to think, reflect, and even empathize - and the speed with which it is being developed – triggered deep concerns. The open letter from technologists signed by the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, author Yuval Noah Harari, and Elon Musk was published in March.
Among its warnings: “Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete, and replace us?”
In May, Open AI’s Sam Altman - who led the effort that brought ChatGPT to us - appeared before a U.S. Senate Committee calling for government regulation. “I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. And we want to be vocal about that,” Altman said. “We want to work with the government to prevent that from happening.”
In response, powerful voices pushed back.
Andreessen, who presciently wrote the essay “Why software is eating the world” 12 years ago, wrote his post in June arguing against any pause in the development of AI and that the technology should be able to develop largely unimpeded. At its simplest, he said AI can “make everything we care about better” - from speeding up scientific breakthroughs to accelerating economic productivity to supporting people through life’s challenges.
Meanwhile, he encouraged everyone to take a deep breath. “Historically, every new technology that matters, from electric lighting to automobiles to radio to the Internet, has sparked a moral panic,” he wrote.
Last month Bill Gates weighed in, also arguing against a pause in AI development but acknowledging the concerns, with a post writing, “The risks are real, but I am optimistic that they can be managed.”
To him, AI is so big that it’s critical we each dedicate ourselves to continuing to educate ourselves about it. “Companies in many sectors of the economy will need to help their employees make the transition to an AI-centric workplace so that no one gets left behind,” he wrote.
AI FOR ALL
This is why Miami Dade College’s efforts are so important. Its two AI Center’s - one in MDC’s Wolfson campus downtown and the other in its North campus - are “designed as a resource to support MDC students, faculty, staff, and the community across ALL campuses to teach, learn, collaborate, and realize AI’s potential.”
For Burciaga, it’s key to building our future workforce.
“I call it blue-collar AI,” he said. Burciaga said there will be countless jobs requiring AI skills that fall below the person with a graduate degree in computer science.
The two-year associate's degree in applied AI at MDC, he added, will give students the chance to earn certificates in industries critical to Miami, such as travel and hospitality, financial services, supply chain and logistics, and life sciences and health. Burciaga emphasized the program is built on practice, not theory.
“What Miami Dade has done is, with a business-industry leadership team - engaging industry professionals like myself - we have worked with folks from Best Buy, from McDonald's, from IBM, from Intel, from all over all industries, to ask: what is it that our students really need to know,” Burciaga said.
As Miami Dade College is the largest and most diverse campus-based college in the country, it presents a unique opportunity to teach AI at scale. Indeed, to democratize AI education - and do it in Miami. Classes in the program start this Fall, with some kicking off on Monday.
We have a new Thread and it’s on the economic impact of AI. Threads are our reports outlining issues critical to our future. For this Thread, journalist Riley Kaminer takes a close look at potential job growth, investments, and improved services in diverse sectors such as tourism and government. You can read the full Thread here.
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