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Given how quickly generative AI tech has come onto the market, it isn't surprising to discover that in-depth knowledge of how to use it, or even how it works is very limited. As the recent TECHnalysis Research study on GenAI usage in the enterprise highlighted, the lack of education on the topic is staggering.
For that reason, it's great to see organizations like Amazon AWS jumping in to offer new training courses and tools to help people get up to speed. Even better, they're making these freely available, helping to reach as wide an audience as possible.
At the corporate level, Amazon announced a new training and reskilling initiative called "AI Ready" that they hope will educate 2 million people by the end of 2025 on how to get a job in the red-hot GenAI field. The program consists of 8 free training courses aimed at different audiences including business decision makers and those interested in learning critical GenAI programming skills.
In partnership with training company Udacity, Amazon is also sponsoring $12 million worth of scholarships for 50,000 high-school age students from underserved and underrepresented communities through its AWS Generative AI Scholarship program.
Finally, for even younger students, Amazon is working with Code.org for a 60-minute class entitled "Hour of Code Dance Party: AI Edition" where students from kindergarten through 12th grade will work to create a virtual music video set using GenAI tools.
A few days ago, AWS unveiled an interactive online AI app building tool called PartyRock. Based on the company's own Bedrock AI platform and Titan LLMs, the clever PartyRock is described by Amazon as an AI playground. It helps non-programmers build their own simple GenAI-powered mini apps using a wizard-like interface and pre-built templates.
For example, you can use PartyRock to create a customized tour guide creation tool, cartoon animal illustrator, clever email response generator, and more with just a few clicks.
Those with little to no programming experience can leverage some pre-built templates to make the process easier, while those with some programming experience can start from scratch and build relatively sophisticated tools by linking together pre-built modules and customizing the types of output that each one generates.
In the process of using the tool, PartyRock helps people at multiple levels of technical expertise better understand how GenAI technology works and how it can be deployed. It also manages to somewhat demystify GenAI and help make it more approachable. By seeing how these mini applications are built, you definitely get a better understanding of how the technology works (and, frankly, how many applications are constructed).
The fears around potential job loss that GenAI has triggered in many people makes these tools even more valuable than other types of training options
The fears around potential job loss that GenAI has triggered in many people makes these tools even more valuable than other types of training options that tech companies have offered for years. There are serious – and valid – concerns about the impact that GenAI could have on certain roles, so it's great to see these kinds of efforts.
Reskilling and retraining in the era of AI is undoubtedly going to be a big issue, and I expect many more tech companies to create these and other kinds of programs to help both those who are already employed in the tech industry and others who may be interested in joining.
There's little doubt that the next few years are going to lead to some fairly dramatic shifts in the workplace, in the types of jobs that become available, and quite frankly, the kinds of jobs that could disappear. What's particularly important about something like PartyRock and Amazon's other training programs is that they can open up new opportunities for those who don't have traditional degrees and bring a whole new group of workers into the tech world.
Given the issues around bias and other related concerns that have already popped up in early iterations of GenAI-powered tools, that's definitely an important step in the right direction.
Bob O'Donnell is the founder and chief analyst of TECHnalysis Research, LLC a technology consulting firm that provides strategic consulting and market research services to the technology industry and professional financial community. You can follow him on Twitter @bobodtech