What does it take to fuel the next generation of AI superstars?
Mark Cuban pledged $2 million to find out. In a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, Cuban detailed his latest initiative, an expansion of his 2019 AI-focused endeavor, the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamps program.
That program, which is aimed at 9th – 12th-grade students, offers “bootcamps” across the U.S., helping students with no prior experience or knowledge to gain an understanding of AI and its role in our modern world.
“We don’t recognize how much talent is there,” Cuban told the Wall Street Journal. “One of my goals is to really go out and find the superstars. There are so many there that are under-appreciated and don’t have access to resources.”
Initially, Cuban’s $2 million investment will be used to purchase resources — such as equipment, transportation, food, and venues — for “hundreds” of students over the next few years. The goal is to expand to 1,000 students per year by 2023.
“This is important, and I’ll keep funding it,” Cuban said.
Cuban’s bootcamps are currently being taught by AI and data-science experts from corporations like Walmart and McDonald’s.
Most importantly, Cuban hopes to reach and to inspire underrepresented and minority groups within the AI and tech industry. This could help reverse a troubling trend. Current research shows that AI algorithms may actually be showing bias because of a lack of diversity.
“It’s so important that everyone has the opportunity to understand how this technology works, and how it’s affecting daily lives,” Craig Brabec, chief data analytics officer at McDonald’s, told the Wall Street Journal.
Currently, Cuban’s bootcamps see students perform a variety of tasks, gaining valuable experience and knowledge along the way. On Oct. 24, students split up and built two chatbots: One which answered questions about a successful ice cream shop and one which responded to queries about the AI Bootcamps. Other exercises include constructing mock smart homes, building AI models which can analyze traffic signs, and more, all carried out across four half-day courses.