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How to Build Your AI Skills

Artificial intelligence (AI) has changed. It’s now a tool that anyone can use daily at work or at home. You can easily start learning AI skills to help stay competitive in the workplace.

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What is generative AI?

AI has been around for years. MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum created the first chatbot, called Eliza, in 1966. Google’s voice assistant, Siri, was launched in 2011. AI is also used by other voice assistants like Cortana and Alexa. Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend products, and Google Search uses it to find information online. These traditional AI systems are programmed to respond in certain ways. They make decisions and predictions based on given data or strategies.

Generative AI is a new form of AI that can create content. It took off with the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November 2022. This new AI creates human-like text outputs like blog posts, images, and videos. It can even write the code for websites and applications.

2023 is described as AI’s breakout year. Tools like ChatGPT and Microsoft’s Copilot are used in many workplaces. They help employees work smarter and faster. Companies are using generative AI to create their own AI systems. These systems can perform customer service tasks. They can also be used internally as assistants for employees.

Will AI skills help your career?

Research shows that companies are using AI to save time and become more efficient. Canadians use AI frequently at work. For example, 22% say they already use AI to help them do their jobs. 61% of AI users use the technology multiple times each week for work.

AI is now described as a “key resource” for Canadian professionals. 9 out of 10 say it improves their work. And 7 out of 10 say AI is now essential to managing their workload.

So, what are the potential career benefits of learning AI skills?

AI tools like ChatGPT can give you detailed answers to questions. They may even be better than search engines like Google.

AI tools and skills will help companies and employees compete with their peers. These skills will become just as expected as other computer skills, like sending an email or creating a document or spreadsheet. The ability to use AI will become a prerequisite for many jobs.

Advanced AI skills will also be in high demand. These skills don’t have to be as complex as understanding how to program AI. Instead, they will be skills that involve getting the most out of an AI tool. They’ll include knowing when it's appropriate to use AI and how to check the output AI produces to make sure it’s accurate.

A report found that 82% of leaders believe workers with AI skills should be paid more. And 74% think these workers should be promoted more often.

Though it has many benefits, remember that generative AI is a new technology that has not been perfected. It can be inaccurate or biased or expose private data. There are also ethical issues with AI. Understanding these risks is part of learning AI skills. It will help you to protect yourself and your employer.

How is AI used in the workplace?

AI is already used in workplaces to serve customers better and automate repetitive tasks.

Customer service

AI chatbots are now much better at answering customer inquiries. Natural language skills mean they can talk like humans and understand context. Some fast-food restaurants are using AI to take customer orders. Customer service agents use AI tools to find and give customers information.

Content creation

Tools like ChatGPT and DALL·E can produce text, image, or video in seconds. This makes them useful for updating websites and social media platforms. They’re also helpful for writing product descriptions, emails, or company brochures.

Sales and marketing

AI can produce sales and marketing material and even designs. It can also help sales teams perform better. Tools like HubSpot or Salesforce use AI to help teams understand customers.

Human resources

Human resources teams have also been using AI for a while. It can write job descriptions and advertisements or search through resumés. AI is also used for employee training. It can role-play job activities with new hires.

Health care

AI chatbots are also used in health care as the first point of contact for patients. More complex AI systems can offer health-care advice or help diagnose patients. Doctors are using AI to improve patient care and to transcribe notes.

Self-employed workers

For entrepreneurs and self-employed workers, AI can help with many tasks. They can use AI to answer client inquiries 24/7. They can also use it for data analytics, finance, human resources, and website management.

How to start learning AI skills

To build AI skills for the workplace, you can start by simply trying and using new AI tools. Or you can watch or read tutorials and guides. You can also take courses and study for new AI qualifications. AI is a new skill, so you won’t be on your own. There are lots of free or low-cost resources that can build AI skills quickly.

Using AI software

New AI tools developed by OpenAI, Google, and Microsoft can be free. Some have low-cost subscriptions as well as handy guides. You can learn by using them.

Say your company or department is already using AI. You may be able to learn from your colleagues. Or you could move to another department to develop your skills.

Online tutorials

Everyone wants in on the new trend of generative AI. There are hundreds of quality online tutorials and YouTube videos. There are even social media shorts and reels that introduce basic AI skills. LinkedIn Learning and Google Cloud have basic and advanced tutorials. You can list completed courses on your resumé.

AI technology is evolving all the time. A way to begin understanding AI is to subscribe to AI newsletters. You could also follow AI content creators on social media. This way, you’ll pick up bits of information on the go.

Free or short courses

Learning platforms like Udemy and Coursera have AI skills courses. There are free beginner’s guides with practical examples. There are also detailed, inexpensive, short courses. Micro-credentials are a quick way to update AI skills that are useful on the job.

Companies understand the importance of AI skills. They know there is a need for more AI experience. Many are investing in employee training. It’s always worth asking what your employer can offer. Some employers may reimburse fees for external courses.

College and university courses

Institutions across Canada have already developed short courses. There are also longer study programs, certifications, and degrees in AI. Here are some courses that are offered in Alberta:

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