Google's biggest challenge in the development of its artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud systems is finding people with the right digital skills, according to the search firm's UK engineering director.
Mike Warriner said at Juniper Networks' Digital Disruption event, attended by V3, that the digital skills gap is as much a problem for Google as it is for other technology companies that make heavy use of IT.
"How the heck are we going to find all the people that we need around the planet with the skills to take advantage of these technologies?" he said.
"I'm asked: 'What is the biggest challenge for companies like Google?' The biggest challenge for us, and I think the biggest challenge for any company nowadays, is finding enough experts.
"It's finding people who have 10 years, 15 years of education and can pick up the skills we need. Then there's actually [finding] people who can even get their heads around AI, big data and large scale networks."
The need for these skills is clearly becoming more important for Google, as the company is pushing forward with its work on AI, big data and global cloud networks.
Warriner cited the face recognition capabilities of Google Photos as an example of AI being used in apps and on everyday devices, such as smartphones, and highlighted the image recognition power of its AI systems to assist in the healthcare industry.
"We are now able to have computers looking at pictures of cancer cells, and on average they are significantly better than an oncologist looking for cancer cells," he said, noting how such technology can provide remote medical diagnostics in areas lacking cancer specialists.
Warriner explained that Google and the technology industry must put more effort into encouraging people to join the IT world to work on cutting-edge systems and services.
"How do we get more people excited about the opportunities that we at Google are bringing to the market?" he asked, adding how important it is to cultivate an interest in technology in children from the age of five.
"Let's see how we can use our collective skills and collective voice to get more people into science, technology, maths and computer science," he said. "[Let's] use the opportunity we have to make a difference to the future."
Warriner suggested that this can be achieved in part by tapping into cloud computing and the internet to deliver more remote education, so that everybody can receive similar levels of teaching across the world.
The involvement of IT firms in narrowing the digital skills gap is something that the government has urged the technology industry to support.
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