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How to start learning AI: AI skills training with AWS

By Danny Aspinall

How to start learning AI: AI skills training with AWS  

Alright, it’s 2024—we all know that artificial intelligence (AI) is the talk of the town by now.  

But while in the last 12-18 months the conversation was all about how AI might become the next big thing, today one thing’s crystal clear: the AI revolution has most definitely begun. 

Just look at all the AI services and solutions AWS has launched in recent years:  

  • Amazon Augmented AI: allows you to conduct a human review of machine learning (ML) systems to guarantee precision 
  • Amazon CodeGuru: enables you to detect, track, and fix code security vulnerabilities anywhere in the development cycle using ML and automated reasoning 
  • Amazon Comprehend: a natural-language processing (NLP) service that uses ML to uncover valuable insights and connections in text 
  • Amazon DevOps Guru: uses ML to detect abnormal operating patterns, so businesses can identify operational issues before they impact customers 
  • Amazon Forecast: a time-series forecasting service based on ML and built for business metrics analysis 
  • Amazon Fraud Detector: a fully managed service that enables customers to identify potentially fraudulent activities and catch more online fraud faster 
  • AWS HealthLake: enables you to securely store, transform, transact, and analyze health data in minutes 
  • Amazon Kendra: an intelligent enterprise search service that helps you search across different content repositories with built-in connectors 
  • Amazon Lex: a fully managed AI service with advanced natural language models to design, build, test, and deploy conversational interfaces in applications 
  • Amazon Lookout for Equipment: an ML industrial equipment monitoring service that detects abnormal equipment behavior, so you can act and avoid unplanned downtime 
  • Amazon Lookout for Metrics: uses ML to detect and diagnose anomalies within business and operational data 
  • Amazon Lookout for Vision: an ML service that uses computer vision to spot defects in manufactured products at scale 
  • Amazon Monitron: an end-to-end system that uses ML to detect abnormal conditions in industrial equipment and enable predictive maintenance 
  • Amazon Personalize: utilizes generative AI-powered capabilities to quickly create hyper-personalization experiences for your users 
  • Amazon Polly: uses deep learning technologies to synthesize natural-sounding human speech, so you can convert articles to speech 
  • Amazon Rekognition: enables you to automate and lower the cost of your image recognition and video analysis with ML 
  • Amazon Textract: an AI service that automatically extracts printed text, handwriting, layout elements, and data from any document 
  • Amazon Transcribe: uses AI to automatically convert speech to text 
  • Amazon Translate: a neural machine translation service that delivers fast, high-quality, affordable, and customizable language translation 
  • AWS Panorama: a collection of ML devices and a software development kit (SDK) that brings CV to on-premises internet protocol (IP) cameras 

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Yep, that’s a whole lot of services! And this list doesn’t even mention AWS’ range of generative AI-powered applications like Amazon Q and AWS CodeWhisperer, as well as tools like Amazon Bedrock and Amazon SageMarker, designed for building generative AI applications of your own.  

This exciting library of AI solutions is great news for organizations hoping to unlock a whole new world of capabilities and efficiencies, with a study by AWS and research firm Access Partnership reporting that a huge 93% of businesses expect they will be using AI solutions across their organizations in the next five years. 

But there’s still one significant hurdle standing in the way: finding the right talent to leverage these new solutions effectively 

In fact, that same report found that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for three-quarters (73%) of employers, but three in four say they are unable to meet their AI talent needs. And when assessing job listings, we found a similar gap in supply and demand: despite the number of organizations looking to hire talent specifically for their generative AI solutions having increased by over 500%, less than 10,000 candidates list generative AI or LLM as something they have experience working on daily, and just 6,800 candidates list MLOps as something they practice day-to-day.   

And this opens plenty of new doors for current and prospective AWS professionals alike. Sure, those with existing AI expertise currently hold all the aces in the job market, but IT talent who are willing to seize the opportunity by developing AI expertise and skill sets that are so highly sought after look set to prosper. And research shows that this effort is more than worth the reward: Access Partnership’s report found that employers expect their workers to earn up to 47% more in salaries if they upskill in AI. 

But if you’re eager to upskill in AI to increase your market value, you’re probably wondering where to start. Lucky for you, AWS has just the answer you’re looking for.  

Recently, Amazon announced their ‘AI Ready commitment’; a series of initiatives designed to scale existing AI training programs and provide both students and adults with free skills training. Aiming to train 2 million people globally by 2025, this commitment hopes to make learning AI more accessible by removing cost as an entry barrier to gaining these critical skills. And we think that’s awesome.    

The initiatives making up the AI Ready commitment are: 

  • Eight free AI and generative AI courses 
  • AWS Generative AI Scholarship 
  • A collaboration with Code.org designed to help students learn about generative AI 

Education is critical to bridging skills gaps in AWS and this starts at the very beginning, promoting opportunities to students in STEM and equipping graduates with in-demand skill sets that ensure longevity to the talent pipelines feeding the ecosystem.  

But what about those who are already part of the AWS community? Or existing professionals hoping to build a new career in AWS? And how can business leaders grasp a foundational understanding of AI in order to better comprehend how to make it work for their organizations? 

As part of the 80+ (yep, you read that right: over 80!) free and low-cost AI and generative AI courses and learning resources provided by AWS, the eight new courses developed as part of the ‘AI Ready commitment’ are purposely designed to aid both technical and nontechnical learners in AI training.  

Businesses and non-technical audiences can gain foundational knowledge of AI and what it can do for their organization through three courses: 

  • Introduction to Generative Artificial Intelligence: available for free through AWS Educate, this introductory course teaches the basics of generative AI, covering all the foundational applications and must-know concepts   
  • Introduction to Amazon CodeWhisperer: also available on AWS Educate, this course teaches learners how to use the AI-powered code generator, Amazon CodeWhisperer, and how to leverage it to solve business problems without advanced technical know-how  
  • Generative AI Learning Plan for Decision Makers: this three-course training session is provided on AWS Skill Builder, covering the fundamentals of planning a generative AI project to help business leaders and decision-makers build a generative AI–ready organization 

Meanwhile, technical learners and existing AWS professionals can upskill through five free purpose-built courses available on AWS Skill Builder:  

  • Foundations of Prompt Engineering: this course introduces the basics of prompt engineering, teaching learners how to design inputs for generative AI tools using a range of advanced prompt techniques (yep, the clue’s in the name!) 
  • Building Language Models on AWS: teaching learners how to fine-tune open-source and foundation models, this course covers everything you need to know about using Amazon SageMaker distributed training libraries to build language models 
  • Low-Code Machine Learning on AWS: this course offers guidance on how to prepare data, train machine learning models, and deploy machine learning modelsall without learners needing extensive knowledge of machine learning or coding capability  
  • Amazon Transcribe—Getting Started: this course teaches learners how to use Amazon Transcribe and unlock the full potential of the fully managed speech conversion tool  
  • Building Generative AI Applications Using Amazon Bedrock in this course, learners explore how to effectively leverage the power of Amazon Bedrock to build generative AI applications 

It’s no exaggeration to say that the rapid evolution of AI and its breakthrough into the mainstream has revolutionized the tech industry and, along with it, the industry’s job markets. Professionals with the right skills should look to capitalize on the plethora of opportunities available today, while AWS talent who are currently lacking expertise and experience in the area, should take the steps to upskill today to reap the rewards tomorrow. And with the help of the AWS ‘AI Ready’ initiative, taking that first step has never been easier.   

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