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Source: University of Waikato

University of Waikato launches four-day short course in Artificial Intelligence in Tauranga

Do you ever wonder how Siri or Alexa pull information from the web, turn on home appliances and perform everyday tasks for us? It’s all down to Artificial Intelligence (AI) – the ability of machines to seemingly think for themselves.

Machines are becoming ‘smart’ and the organisations we interact with on a daily basis are increasingly using AI to make decisions about us and, in some cases, for us. Converging technologies, Big Data and machine learning are driving the growth of AI and continue to revolutionise the way we work.

Gaining a basic business and technical grounding in the principles and practices around AI has become extremely valuable in nearly every field of business. That’s why the University of Waikato has developed Demystifying AI – a four-day short course designed for employers who are keen to upskill whole teams and for professionals who want to lead the AI charge in their workplace.

Taught by AI expert Professor Albert Bifet, this course aims to enable each student to bring an AI project to fruition and to learn how they can action AI in their workplace right away. A blend of theory and hands-on practice, Demystifying AI is a stepping stone to mastering the power of AI to drive growth, efficiency and market differentiation.

Professor Bifet says investing in upskilling workers to harness AI’s potential helps organisations to remain competitive and employees to stay relevant, adaptable and employable. “In today’s ever-changing business landscape, professional development training is no longer a luxury but a necessity,” he says.

But is it possible to explore the fast-moving field of AI while juggling work and without the long-term commitment of tertiary study? Demystifying AI is geared towards busy professionals who are keen to explore the fascinating possibilities of AI and how this rapidly evolving technology can drive business value and shape the future of work. This intensive short course comprises 30 hours of workshops held over two parts, offering participants the opportunity to gain a basic business and technical understanding of AI and the risks that need to be carefully navigated along the way.

Demystifying AI is a rare opportunity to get hands-on with AI technologies and be personally mentored by Professor Albert Bifet – a global expert in the field who has worked for tech giants Yahoo and Huawei. Originally from Barcelona and with more than 150 publications on machine learning methods and their applications under his belt, Professor Bifet is currently leading a $13m MBIE-funded project using AI to help monitor and restore lakes, rivers, forests and estuaries across New Zealand.

Professor Bifet says his decision to join the University of Waikato came down to the institution’s world-class data science capabilities. “I’m thrilled to be working for a leader in the field of computer science that is also leading the way in fully leveraging AI technology to support innovation in a safe and ethical way,” he says.

Professor Bifet and his team of researchers are currently working on a range of groundbreaking AI projects, including the development of computer vision software that can record occupancy levels at car parks, with the potential to dramatically change the price point for car park management. This computer vision model will be integrated into park sharing platform Parkable’s existing software, using world-leading technologies that enable machine-learning algorithms to run on low-cost computers.

It was only last year that other ingenious technology created by mechanical engineering experts at the University of Waikato, combining AI, machine vision and robotics, was unveiled at Fieldays. The robotic asparagus picker works via a vision system that detects the asparagus spears, computes their corresponding base location and instructs the robotic arm to cut the asparagus – one of the hardest crops to harvest.

The potential for AI to continue to change the world around us and to impact on the way we live and work is enormous. So who best to demystify what AI means for business processes and workers than world-renowned AI expert Professor Bifet? “AI is integrated into our everyday lives – it has and will continue to revolutionise industries including banking, transportation and medicine, as well as the way digital marketing and social media experts make business decisions,” he says.

“To reach the full potential of AI and its remarkable resurgence, employers need to deepen their understanding of the potential and relevance of AI for their business and industry sector and provide their employees with the skills and knowledge to facilitate effective AI implementations. Demystifying AI presents a unique upskilling opportunity for today’s workforce. It’s designed to help employers capitalise on their talent and ensure New Zealand is not only ready for the future but leading the journey on leveraging transformational technologies for both economic gain and wider well-being.”

The course offers access to post-programme coaching and continued support through alumni workshops to help participants continue to turn their learning into practice.

Demystifying AI begins 10 November 2020.


Part A: 10 & 11 November

Part B: 23 & 24 November


University of Waikato – Tauranga campus

Registrations now open