NC State preparing students for artificial intelligence as tech companies come to Triangle

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Artificial intelligence isn’t only for big technology companies. It’s something most people use without realizing it.

Artificial intelligence gives machines that are programmed the capabilities to think like humans and mimic their actions

From phones to search engines, social media, and smart devices in homes — each uses artificial intelligence technology.

“When we have our conversational assistance in our homes and we’re talking with one of these and we’re asking what’s the weather going to be like or what’s the capital of Tanzania. Those are kind of questions that are easy to answer,” said North Carolina State University Distinguished Professor James Lester.

Lester is also the Director of the Center for Educational Informatics where they conduct research on AI technologies for education. He said with growing technology, they can see more advances in AI. The conversations could be different in five years.

“We will be able to ask them to make predictions about the stock market or to tell us what could happen with the weather a week from now,” Lester said.

At N.C. State, they’re preparing the next group of research scientists and engineers to make it happen. It’s coming at a time when the demand for people who are skilled and specialized in artificial intelligence is high.

“The job opportunities are just through the roof,” Lester said.

He said the opportunities are evident through the recent Apple announcement that 3,000 jobs are coming to the Research Triangle. Many are in software engineering and artificial intelligence.

“This is going to bring the demand even higher and there’s a real need for people with the skills. You can’t, by yourself, develop these competencies, so you really do need to get some training,” Lester said. “A real advantage of being in a place like the Research Triangle is there are so many opportunities for developing these skills.”

Lester said right now they’re using the AI technology to create adaptive learning tools for students to help with homework and projects. It provides advice in problem solving situations. They’re using this same technology to provide training for the military.

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