June 22, 2024

Advancing Digital Growth

Pioneering Technological Innovation

Learn To Ride The AI And Blockchain Tech Tsunami

8 min read

In the emerging tech space, having strong education really makes a difference in your ability to win the highest-possible salary and, even more importantly, to enhance your decision making and increase innovation for your new company. With LinkedIn Data predicting a 65% shift in job skills by 2030 due to AI and Blockchain, we need to learn both in traditional ways and in new ways.

The trend of requiring degrees for jobs irrespective of their relevance, known as “degree inflation,” began in the early 2000s, sidelining skilled workers without formal education.This shift away from traditional education prerequisites signifies a broader transformation in job qualification narratives, advocating for skills over degrees.

Initiatives to prioritize skills and competencies over academic credentials have gained momentum. A pivotal move was made towards skills-based hiring within federal employment practices. Mirroring this progressive stance, over 16 states have enacted legislation aimed at dismantling degree requirements for public sector jobs. This evolving landscape heralds the dismantling of the ‘paper ceiling,’ championing a skills-first approach that promises to redefine the workforce, making it more inclusive and meritocratic.

Emerging technologies are rapidly driving the creation of new education models that emphasize real-world simulations to maximize learners’ outcomes. This means not only new topics to learn but also new ways to study. Ambitious professionals at all career stages must understand new developments in AI and blockchain. So, what does a great education look like?

Value of Education

Multiple reports on emerging jobs have consistently highlighted roles in AI and blockchain among the fastest-growing job categories; meanwhile analysts predict that the AI market will grow by a factor of 20 over the course of the ‘20s. According to these same surveys, roles requiring knowledge of AI and blockchain are among the highest paying in the tech sector. For example, blockchain developers and AI specialists often pay higher than their counterparts in other IT roles.

And make no mistake: upskilling doesn’t just benefit the individual. Companies that invest in employee AI and blockchain education see major improvements in innovation and productivity. According to a Deloitte survey, organizations that use these technologies effectively are more likely to report strong growth. Employees skilled in AI and blockchain can drive innovation by developing new products, services, and processes.

A PwC report suggests that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Companies with employees skilled in these areas are better positioned to tap into this potential, and gain a competitive edge in their industries.

We must never forget that technology is a tool, and it’s useless (or worse!) if we don’t have the knowledge or skills to use it effectively. Ben Bartlett, Vice Mayor of Berkeley, puts it best: “Here’s the thing – education and innovation are essential to advance the human cause. The conditions of the world are becoming so hard on people. In order to avoid reaching a breaking point, we need to advance an equitable expansion of resources. It’s important for education systems to embrace innovation and advance the human cause.”

Here are some of the new forms of education in the Age of AI.

Hackathons:

These intense, often highly focused events are a hotbed for creativity, where participants ranging from students to seasoned professionals dive into the depths of problem-solving and rapid prototyping. In the collaborative spirit of hackathons, individuals learn by doing, a principle that stands at the heart of educational philosophies that champion active learning. They are pushed to explore new technologies, tools, and methodologies, bridging the gap between knowing and understanding.

Hackathons exemplify the power of collaborative learning and the synthesis of diverse skill sets. This crucible of collective intelligence is invaluable for learning as it mirrors the dynamics of the modern workplace, where interdisciplinary collaboration is key to innovation. The hands-on experience gained in hackathons goes beyond technical skills; it encompasses teamwork, communication, and time management — all essential attributes for personal and professional growth. Through the iterative cycle of ideation, creation, and presentation, hackathons provide a microcosm of the project lifecycle, offering a practical education that empowers individuals to transform ideas into tangible outcomes.

For example, the blockchain conference ETHDenver sponsors a hackathon every year to help companies learn about the power of AI and blockchain. ETHDenver is the world’s largest Web3 and Ethereum-based innovation festival.

“ETHDenver has been hosting #BUIDLWeek and the #BUIDLathon as a way to bring together people from diverse backgrounds and skill levels who share a common interest in blockchain. It is a major part of the world’s largest innovation festival. These events are crucial for developing skills, and educating festival attendees (BUIDLers) through a range of technical presentations, workshops, and mini-summits,” John Paller, the Co-Founder and Executive Steward of ETHDenver, explained to me.

He continued with some very important points on community. “Community engagement is another important factor for #BUIDLWeek and the #BUIDLathon as it allows people to connect in real life, network, and develop a deep sense of community. Our mentors and speakers are world-class, coming from the top protocols and platforms from all over the world to be here. The same goes for our judges. We are a big tent and a blank canvas to empower people to come together and build the next big project or upgrade. #BUIDLWeek and the #BUIDLathon help to promote adoption and acceptance of blockchain technology. It’s an opportunity for the curious to learn and see first-hand what is possible within this wild world of Web3. These events serve as a catalyst for innovation.

The New Targeted University:

Many focused, university-like programs are popping up to deal with the challenge of people struggling to understand emerging technologies. For example, De University of Ethereum
ETH
(UETH) has been created to meet the urgent need to train the next generation on blockchain. To date, this program has brought on over 100 chapters from around the world who are interested in getting access to resources to help their local blockchain clubs and university communities grow. This program provides a clear path to help students make their way from initial education to project-based learning with mentorship support, which leads to acceleration and funding for top projects.

“When it comes to blockchain adoption, education is essential,” says Rachel Brissenden, who curates, leads and hosts workshops at UETH “We need to put an emphasis on showcasing how blockchain solves real problems, while offering individuals a clear pathway to get involved. After hosting weekly UETH workshops and facilitating in person workshops at colleges like USC and UCLA, the following is clear to me: the next generation is HUNGRY to learn how blockchain can be leveraged for good. Students around the world are getting excited about it, and I am enthusiastic about our efforts at UETH to foster that spark!”

Bootcamps:

By providing hands-on, practical training, these boot camps prepare participants for immediate, impactful engagement with emerging technologies.

An exemplary manifestation of this approach is the 100 Girls in Blockch(AI)n initiative, aimed at harnessing the potential of blockchain and artificial intelligence to address the challenges faced by India’s ‘bottom billion’. This venture not only equips 100 girls with cutting-edge skills but also positions them at the forefront of creating generative AI solutions across critical sectors such as education, agriculture, healthcare, and finance.

As Priyanka Kamath, founder 100 Girls GenAi, explained to me: “The 100 GIGA project is developing large language models (LLMs) tailored for India’s diverse and underserved populations in smaller cities, focusing on education, finance, healthcare, and agriculture sectors. It aims to support millions of students and farmers, reduce school dropouts, and decrease the workload of pediatric surgeons, leveraging AI for societal improvements. These scalable AI solutions are set to be launched on AWS Marketplace, built upon advanced foundational models like Llama2 and Claude Cohere for widespread access.”

Another group that understands the immense significance of innovation and emerging technology is Girls in Tech, the organization dedicated to empowering women (I am a board member). Across the globe, girls and women are encouraged to become leaders. Not only does it pave the way for gender equality in traditionally male-dominated fields, but it also ensures diverse perspectives and solutions in technological advancements.

Adriana Gascoigne, Founder and CEO of Girls in Tech, emphasizes the critical role of innovation and education in shaping the future of technology. She states, “Innovation is the lifeblood of progress, and education is its catalyst. At Girls in Tech, we recognize the transformative power of emerging technologies like AI. Our commitment to fostering innovation and providing educational opportunities is evident in initiatives like the Girls in Tech’s Emerging Tech in AI Bootcamp.”

AI to learn about AI:

As the demand for task automation and personalized learning experiences grows, technologies within AI such as Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, Speech, and Image Recognition are significantly enhance the educational landscape, providing customized lessons, round-the-clock support, and automated assessments that could revolutionize how students learn. Reflecting this trend, a P&S Intelligence market report notes that the value of the global AI in education sector, which was at $1.1 billion in 2019, is anticipated to surge to $25.7 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.9% from 2020 to 2030.

The AI Education Project is a non-profit organization that creates equitable learning experiences to empower students with AI literacy. They provide a range of learning materials and resources that aim to make AI education accessible to all students, including those from vulnerable communities​​. DataCamp offers guidance on how to learn AI from scratch, covering the prerequisite skills such as basic mathematics and programming, before diving deeper into specialist AI skills like statistics, mathematics, programming, and data manipulation​​.

There are several startups that are using AI to teach AI concepts to beginners. For example, Riiid is a South Korean startup that provides an AI Tutor solution aiming to disrupt the education market with its advanced AI technology. In the UK, Century Tech has developed an AI teaching and learning platform for schools, colleges, and universities that uses AI, big data, and neuroscience to tailor educational content to individual student needs. Another example is Amira Learning from the USA, which offers an intelligent reading assistant that helps improve language fluency and provides diagnostic insights​​.

Jump on Board:

Employing more progressive education methods will help all learn in a way that fits the new future of work. By adapting now, we can ensure that the future workforce is not only prepared but proficient in leveraging the full spectrum of opportunities that AI, blockchain, and other frontier technologies present.

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