Massive push planned for Japanese AI education

The Yomiuri ShimbunThe education ministry will create a nationwide curriculum this autumn covering the basics of artificial intelligence, suitable for use at all the nation’s universities.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry will draw on the experience of universities that currently study the use of big data, so as to devise educational content that will stretch across such academic divisions as arts and sciences. The curriculum will be introduced as early as next spring at some universities.

In the future, the ministry hopes that approximately 500,000 students — about the entire number of students in one grade at all universities nationwide — will study AI annually.

Given the global trend of utilizing AI for data analysis, Japan has lagged behind in fostering human resources related to artificial intelligence.

According to an Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry estimate, Japan had a shortage of 34,000 AI specialists as of 2018, and the shortage will further rise to a maximum of 124,000 people in 2030. There are also said to be very few top-level AI professionals in Japan.

The government’s “AI strategy” is aiming to have about 500,000 students study the basics of AI and to nurture 250,000 personnel who can apply AI in their specialized fields on an annual basis. The curriculum is expected to be introduced mainly among the freshmen.

The curriculum will include entry-level programming necessary to run AI, statistics to process vast amounts of information and computer engineering.

The education ministry will examine past efforts by national universities. Shiga University, for example, established the nation’s first department of data science, which aims to nurture “data scientists” who can analyze big data and other information for use in such areas as market forecasts and reducing medical costs.

The University of Tokyo has the Mathematics and Data Science Education Program, which organizes a lineup of about 180 AI-related lectures offered in its various departments, helping all the university’s students attend such lectures.

The education ministry has selected 26 universities to play a central role in creating the curriculum — six national universities, including the University of Tokyo and Shiga University, to serve as hubs for AI studies and 20 national “cooperating” universities.

To encourage the spread of the curriculum, the six hub universities will record their lectures based on the education curriculum and post them online. The 20 cooperating universities will hold seminars about AI education for faculty members at national, public and private universities nearby, aiming to improve the level of training in the field.

“There is great need in the industrial sector for AI training at universities. We want to create a curriculum that is easy for any university to introduce,” a senior education ministry official said.Speech

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