AlexaDev Tuesday: Udacity’s New, Credentialed AI Nanodegree

First, a housekeeping announcement: Because next Tuesday is Election Day here in the U.S. and we’ll all have more important things on our minds that day, I’ll be running next week’s planned AlexaDev Tuesday post this Thursday instead. Don’t worry, it’s a one-time thing. Now, on to today’s post…

AI is clearly the wave of the future in tech, and anyone looking to have a successful career in tech engineering will increasingly need to have at least a working knowledge, and ideally a mastery, of one or more AI technologies. Amazon’s Alexa team has announced it is partnering with Udacity, together with Didi Chuxing and IBM Watson, to bring developers the opportunity to earn Udacity’s new, credentialed Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree.

Note that I do not receive compensation of any kind for sharing this information, nor from clicks on the Udacity links included in this post.


Udacity AI Nanodegree


The first session begins in January of 2017 and each program class is limited to 500 participants. This will be a selective program, just like any other credentialed degree program. Udacity is hoping to bring in only the most promising engineers and developers, and as of this writing there are already 4162 applicants. Applications close 11/14/16, so you’ll want to get your application in right away if this sounds like the program for you. From Amazon’s Marion Desmazieres:

The Alexa team is excited to be collaborating with Udacity on a new Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program. Udacity is a leading provider of cutting-edge online learning, with a focus on in-demand skills in innovative fields such as Machine Learning, Self-Driving Cars, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence.

“The Alexa team is dedicated to accelerating the field of conversational artificial intelligence. Udacity’s new nanodegree for AI engineers is aligned with our vision to advance the industry. We’re excited for students to learn about our work at Amazon and to build new skills for Alexa as part of the course.” – Rohit Prasad, VP & Head Scientist, Alexa

Learn more about the Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program in this guest post by Christopher Watkins, Senior Writer at Udacity.

Few topics today are as compelling as artificial intelligence. From ethicists to artists, physicians to statisticians, roboticists to linguists, everyone is talking about it, and there is virtually no field that stands apart from its influence. That said, there is still so much we don’t know about the future of artificial intelligence. But, that is honestly part of the excitement!

What we DO know is that world-class, affordable AI education is still very hard to come by, which means unless something changes, and unless new learning opportunities emerge, the field will suffer for a lack of diverse, global talent.

Fortunately, something IS changing. We are so excited to announce the newest offering from Udacity, the Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program!

“This is truly a global effort, with global potential. We believe AI will serve everyone best if it’s built by a diverse range of people.” —Sebastian Thrun (Founder, Udacity)

With the launch of this program, virtually anyone on the planet with an Internet connection (and the relevant background and skills) will be able to study to become an AI engineer. If AI is the future of computer science—and it is—then our goal is to ensure that everyone who wishes to be a part of this future can do so. We want to see every aspiring AI engineer find a job and advance their career in this extraordinary field.


Collaborating With Industry Leaders
To help achieve these goals, we are collaborating with an amazing roster of industry-leading companies, including Amazon Alexa, IBM Watson, and Didi Chuxing. In order to provide our students with the highest quality, most cutting-edge curriculum possible, we are building the Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree program in close partnership with IBM Watson. To support the career goals of our students, we have also established hiring partnerships with both IBM Watson and Didi Chuxing.

Amazon Alexa is the voice service that powers Amazon Echo and enables people to interact with the world around them in a more intuitive way using only their voice. Through a series of free, self-service, public APIs, developers, companies, and hobbyists can integrate Alexa into their products and services, and build new skills for Alexa, creating a seamless way for people to interact with technology on a daily basis.

IBM Watson represents a new era in computing called cognitive computing, where systems understand the world the way humans do: through senses, learning, and experience. The Watson platform is open to the world, allowing a growing community of developers, students, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts to easily tap into the most advanced and diverse cognitive computing platform available today.

Didi Chuxing, the world’s largest mobile transportation platform, has established the Didi Research Institute, focusing on research topics including machine learning, computer vision, artificial intelligence, data-mining, optimization theory, distributed computing, and more.
Artificial Intelligence and The Future of Jobs

AI is sometimes miscast as a threat to jobs in the future. We strongly disagree with this, but we do know that while jobs are not going away, the future of work IS going to change. Many jobs that exist today will disappear within the decade. However, these jobs will be replaced with new jobs in new fields, and these roles will require employees with new skills.

“I believe machines don’t replace people. They give people superpowers.” —Sebastian Thrun

When The World Economic Forum released its report on The Future of Jobs, AI was singled out as ultimately producing net job growth. Other notable projections include:

Research firm Markets and Markets estimates the AI market will grow to more than $5 billion by 2020 given rising adoption of machine learning and natural language processing technologies in multiple industries such as healthcare, finance, education, retail, media, advertising, and education.

6 billion devices will actively request AI support by 2018. (Gartner)

AI will change things, there is no question, and the engineers of the future will be charged with the responsibility of ensuring it changes things for the better. This is why the field holds so much promise, and produces so much excitement.


Click here to read the full guest post from Udacity’s Christoper Watkins, which includes all program details.

Click here to go directly to Udacity’s AI Nanodegree portal.


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Did you know Alexa functionality is now being rolled out to the 7″ Fire Tablet? Currently (as of 10/31/16) rated 4/5 stars across over 80,200 reviews and currently priced at $49.99.

UK visitors – click here for the UK version, but note that Amazon has not yet officially announced this software update in the UK. Still, with or without Alexa it’s a pretty great tablet for the price and no matter what, it can still run the Alexa mobile app and Alexa web app.

Advertisements make it possible for Love My Echo to bring you great content for free, so thanks for your support.

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