NC State Researchers Host an NSF Summit on Developing AI Technologies for Workforce Empowerment

Industry 4.0, the fourth revolution that has occurred in manufacturing featured by smart and autonomous systems, has fundamentally transformed the way we live and work. As a result of the support of automated machines, the labor market is increasingly characterized by technological unemployment and AI-assisted recruiting. 

How can we develop AI technologies to help job seekers and employers manage a rapidly changing labor market? Starting in September 2019, a multidisciplinary team working on Ethical AI for Workforce Empowerment from NC State University has been developing AI tools to assist future workers at the state and national levels (see the previous release). This project is supported by a $985,485 grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Convergence Accelerator (C-Accel) Pilot (Track B1: AI and Future Jobs). As part of the grant, the team hosted a summit on February 13, 2020 as an opportunity to foster collective responses by building a strong industry-government-NPO-academia partnership.

Strategic Talks from Researchers and Industry Leaders

In the opening remarks provided by Huiling Ding, the Principal Investigator of the NSF C-Accel project, she presented the team’s prototype on ethical AI for workforce upskilling. Industry partners shared insights on the future of manufacturing disrupted by AI technologies. KeAnne Hoeg (Industry Expansion Solutions Manager of Market Research & Reporting, NC State University) illustrated the potential for AI to revolutionize the manufacturing industry while Mark Rohlinger (Project Manager at Bosch) talked about Bosch Rexroth’s vision on the factory of the future highlighted by fully digitized and connected processes. Focusing on the case of automated vehicles, Veljko Dubljevic (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, NC State University) suggested that the responsibility for dealing with AI-related ethical issues “falls across all elements of society (government, business, employees).”

Panel Discussions on Synergy and Collaboration

Co-PIs from the NC State Project team described their individual objectives and R & D outcomes. Xipeng Shen (Professor of Computer Science) presented the techniques involved in the credential gap analysis. Min Chi (Associate professor of Computer Science) introduced the personalized training recommendation system. Zhe Yu (Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science) elaborated on how cheaper and fairer hiring can be enabled by human-centered AI. Xiaolei Fang (Assistant Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering) addressed how we might use AI to connect employees and employers more effectively. 

Engaging thirty local and national stakeholders, the summit was a success by generating productive conversations on workforce development with AI technologies. The participants raised critical questions regarding training, credential gap, algorithms, and biases. Tackling the societal challenge of workforce retraining and automated recruiting calls for close collaboration between a wide range of existing and potential partners. The NSF C-Accel Phase II federal funding will provide an unprecedented and valuable opportunity to bring all stakeholders together to come up with effective strategies to address the challenges of AI and the future of work.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Huiling Ding, the Principal Investigator of the team (email or phone number 919-515-4120).