LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) – Metro Louisville is becoming a technology hub for Microsoft.
The major tech company joined Mayor Greg Fischer and several other community leaders Friday to announce the city would become the regional hub for artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and data science.
Being a hub means Microsoft and city government officials will work with industries that are at risk of automation by upskilling their workforce.
“The whole opportunity ahead of us is not about putting people out of jobs,” Paul Friedman, Vice President of IT at Humana, said. “It’s about elevating people in their jobs, allowing them to not have to do the mundane but to do the things that actually require skill and talent.”
Community leaders also hope the technology partnership helps diversity Louisville’s workforce, especially in the field of IT. That starts with young people.
Dave Christopher with AMPED (Academy of Music Education, Production and Development) started his organization to advance kids in low-income areas, teaching them vital skills in music and tech. As a child of poverty whose parents couldn’t afford college, Christopher said he taught himself IT. Now with almost 30 years in the technology field under his belt, he’s still only worked with less than 30 African-Americans.
“I recall working in a server room at an H and R Block office to upgrade the server and walking past a preparer’s office when a customer informed her that a black man had just walked into the back of the building," Christopher remembered. “When the preparer informed the client that was our IT person, her response was ‘you let him work on your computers?’"
Christopher added by making sure education and training extends to young people with less opportunity, Louisville has the chance to be at the forefront of a tech revolution.
Microsoft plans to partner with education providers from pre-school through higher education to help with digital literacy training. In addition, both the company and the city will support the Digital Inclusion Initiative to close the skills gap in under-invested and disfranchised communities.
The AI Innovation Digital Alliance also means:
- Microsoft will establish a physical location downtown.
- Louisville Metro, Microsoft, and the Brookings Institution will collaborate on a comprehensive local strategy focused on the impacts of AI, IoT and data science technologies on communities and develop a playbook for how to prepare other communities for the changing economic landscape.
- Microsoft will support AI-assisted applied research to seek solutions to community challenges such as racial disparities in environmental effects on human health and the cultural measures of trust, hope and belonging that impact employee health and talent retention.
- Microsoft will support the local entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem through grants and other resource.
Louisville will also host a high-level AI, IoT and data science summit, along with at least six other events supported by Microsoft, in the fiscal year 2020.