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[N] Google AI Research Division To Issue PhD Degrees

Article Link: https://medium.com/halting-problem/google-ai-research-division-to-issue-phd-degrees-8a6954293047

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIFORNIA — In a move that is completely unsurprising to many, Google’s AI research division has announced that they are issuing PhD degrees to select employees.

Industry research organizations like Google Brain, DeepMind, and FAIR are well known as heavy hitters in the artificial intelligence research community, publishing as many papers (if not more) as academic institutions like Stanford, Berkeley, and MIT. Many top professors from academia have migrated over to industry research labs as well, sacrificing the security of academic tenure for fat stacks of money. Although Google has previously experimented with research residencies, this is the first time that they have issued postgraduate degrees.

According to a representative, the tech giant decided to issue PhDs in order to attract scarce AI talent. “It’s extremely difficult to find people with talent in Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence these days, and it pained us to see so many of our amazing interns decline our return offers to go back to school for PhDs. With the Google PhD program, we can continue to get the best talent while supporting our student-employees with world class resources and technology.”

For graduate students, the Google PhD program is a sweet deal. There is already a well-known pipeline where top graduate students do their PhDs at a university, intern at industry research groups during the summer, and then sign on full time after graduation with the promise of million-dollar compensation packages and the freedom to set their own research agendas.

However, aspiring AI researchers must still struggle through the difficulties of academia: four to six years of low pay, begging for funding, and advisors who can be sadistic, micromanaging, or absent. In contrast, Google offers researchers massive computational resources and motivates their PhD advisors with a potent combination of vegan snacks, kombucha, and equity refreshers. Instead of receiving a boring paper diploma at the end of their PhDs, Google PhD graduates receive a priceless note handwritten by Jeff Dean on a napkin that says, “You have a PhD now.”

Other tech companies are scrambling to build their own research groups so they are not left behind in the “AI revolution.” Halting Problem reached out to a representative from Salesforce AI Research who said, “What? Google is doing it? Well, guess we are too.”

In the meantime, Google is already planning for the next way to find top AI talent. According to a knowledgeable source, Google is in talks with Khan Academy to create a “machine learning kindergarten” program that teaches children Tensorflow.

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Toronto AI is a social and collaborative hub to unite AI innovators of Toronto and surrounding areas. We explore AI technologies in digital art and music, healthcare, marketing, fintech, vr, robotics and more. Toronto AI was founded by Dave MacDonald and Patrick O'Mara.