Dr Greg Benson, Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco and Chief Scientist at SnapLogic, shares his tips for hiring the best AI talent and a what it means to work across both industry and academia for AI development.
1. What inspired your decision to work in AI?
I started working on AI in commercial software because of the potential to radically change the way humans interact with machines. I’m also excited about the potential for AI to change the way we write software: moving from conventional coding to automated code generation.
2. Can you explain your role as a professor but also as chief scientist at SnapLogic? What are the benefits of this dual role?
I have been a University Professor at the University of San Francisco for 20 years after receiving my Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of California, Davis. I’ve published research in parallel and distributed computing and programming languages. I began working with SnapLogic in 2010, where I’ve been able to apply my research expertise to the SnapLogic integration platform. My dual role has enabled me to keep up with academic research and also apply this research to real-world problems. In addition, I recruit graduate students to work on interesting problems at SnapLogic as part of their studies at the University of San Francisco. SnapLogic hires many of my students, so I am able to continue working with great students after they graduate. On the one hand I can apply research techniques to industry problems and, on the other hand, I bring some of my industry experience back to the classroom, which benefits my students as they prepare for careers in software development.
3. What advice would you give to a company who is trying to recruit AI talent?
You should consider working with Universities to find students who want to apply their AI and ML knowledge to practical problems. Most Universities offer AI and ML courses today and students are looking for internships and practical experience. In addition, consider allowing some of your current employees to take courses, like Coursera, in AI and ML. Finally, advances in AI and ML platforms are enabling non AI experts to take advantage of AI techniques.
4. Do you think concern around AI and robotics replacing human jobs is justified?
Technology advances before AI reduced or eliminated some jobs that were once done by humans. AI and robotics will also find ways to replace or change some jobs currently performed by humans. This is not something to fear. Just like with previous technology disruptions it will mean that workers will have to adapt, update skills, and move to other jobs that require human dexterity and intelligence. Creativity, imagination, judgment, strategy -- these human skills, not easily automated by machines, will always be in demand. There will also be a new class of jobs in which AI is used to augment humans in the workforce to make certain occupations more efficient.