LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Mayor Greg Fischer and Microsoft leaders announced on Friday Louisville will become a Microsoft regional hub for artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), and data science.

“Artificial intelligence is the next frontier in technology, and through this collaboration with Microsoft, we will prepare our workforce for the tech revolution and create economic opportunity, while not losing sight of the need for equity within economic growth,” Fischer said. “We are excited to partner with Microsoft to ensure Louisville residents and businesses are ready for the future economy.”

Louisville will be an urban laboratory, and city government will work with education, workforce and business partners to strengthen and diversify the city’s core industries, including health care and manufacturing, which face risk of automation from the progression of AI technology. 

“Task hours for jobs are going to be provided more by computing than by people in the future and that creates space for human potential," chief technology officer for Microsoft U.S. Business, Jennifer Byrne said. "But it also means that we have to get ready for what the future holds for us."

The AI Innovation Digital Alliance with Microsoft can help companies in vulnerable industries reskill and upskill their workforce to meet demands of the 21st century economy.

“AI is a technology that can be a hard skill to adopt so we have to spend a great deal of time and investment on thinking about how we democratize AI and how we make it accessible to everyone," Byrne said. 

This alliance will create and fund an AI, IoT and data science fellowship program, including providing training and equipment. The fellows will work with nonprofit, education, start-up, and workforce development organizations, and with area businesses to provide training and support aligned with initiatives focused on AI, IoT and data science.

 According to Pew Research 76 percent of adults in the U.S. worry the wealth gap will get worse with the rise of automation. Some also worry it will eliminate jobs. 

“Both Louisville and Microsoft have a commitment to ensuring that these new technologies work for people so that every worker and family can thrive," Fischer said.

Microsoft will also invest in schools to empower the youth. Digital camps will introduce boys and girls to stem careers and help them identify skill sets they may want to pursue. 

“For the larger benefit of the economy you have to teach people how to use technology and that has to start at a very young age and has to continue all the way through the life cycle of the work force," Byrne said. 

Additional activities of this alliance include:

  • Microsoft will have a physical location downtown.
  • Microsoft will partner with pre-school through higher education providers on digital literacy training and, with Louisville Metro, will support the Digital Inclusion initiative to close the digital skills gap present in underinvested and disenfranchised communities.
  • 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 resources.
  • Louisville Metro will host a high-level AI, IoT and data science summit in fiscal year 2020 and at least six other events supported by Microsoft.

Contact reporter Senait Gebregiorgis at SGebregior@whas11.com and follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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