Tech companies, and increasingly even non-tech companies, are struggling with the fact that there are not enough trained data scientists to fill market demand. Every company has their own strategy for hiring and training, but Airbnb has taken things a step further — running its own university-style program, complete with a custom course-numbering system.
Data University is Airbnb’s attempt to make its entire workforce more data literate. Traditional online programs like Coursera and Udacity just weren’t getting the job done because they were not tailored to Airbnb’s internal data and tools. So the company decided to design a bunch of courses of its own around three levels of instruction for different employee needs.
100-level classes on data-informed decision making have been designed to be applicable to all teams, including human resources and business development.
Middle-tier classes on SQL and Superset have enabled some non-technical employees to take on roles as project managers, and more intensive courses on Python and machine learning have helped engineers brush up on necessary skills for projects.
Since launching the program in Q3 2016, Airbnb has seen the weekly active users of its internal data science tools rise from 30 to 45 percent. A total of 500 Airbnb employees have taken at least one class — and Airbnb has yet to expand the program to all 22 of its offices.
Interestingly, Airbnb says it tried four times to build and scale a data science education program. Jeff Feng, product manager on the analytics and experimentation team, told me in an interview that there were three best-practices that really enabled this iteration to work:
- Designing an accessible curriculum for everyone
- Working with leadership across the company to set data literacy expectations
- Finding ways to measure success
Feng hopes that other companies will adopt similar practices when designing their own internal data science courses. The program seems to take a page from Google’s internal classes that helped it differentiate back in the day. Google’s version includes both technical and non-technical courses, ranging from data visualization to beekeeping.
Airbnb rolled out its intro data science classes first, making a statement that the program was about more than just engineers, though the more technically inclined will be getting additional higher-level classes moving forward.
Tim Cook has not-so-subtly hinted that Apple is working on some sort of augmented reality product. And while ARKit may be the start, a patent application published today hints at what Apple could be picturing down the road.
- Amazon has a secret skunkworks lab called 1492, dedicated to health care tech.
- Areas of exploration include a platform for electronic medical record data, telemedicine and health apps for existing devices like the Amazon Echo.
Apple has teamed up with Australian-based Cochlear to bring iPhone users the first made for iPhone Cochlear implant.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, Cochlear’s Nucleus 7 Sound Processor can now stream sound directly from a compatible iPhone, iPad or iPod touch to the sound processor.
Google’s London-based AI outfit DeepMind has created two different types of AI that can use their ‘imagination’ to plan ahead and perform tasks with a higher success rate than AIs without imagination. Sorry if I made you click because you wanted AIs predicted flying cars. I promise this is cool too.
Scientists at MIT are using Wi-Fi and AI to determine your emotional state. They’ve created an algorithm that can detect and measure individual heartbeats by bouncing RF signals off of people.
Yep. Glass is back.
Engineers will soon conduct a crucial test of a futuristic technology championed by entrepreneur Elon Musk that seeks to revolutionize transportation by sending passengers and cargo packed into pods through an intercity system of vacuum tubes.
Uber announced that it will be combining its rides-on-demand business and UberEATS, its food ordering and delivery business, in Russia and neighboring markets, with Yandex.Taxi, the ridesharing business.
Tesla will up its game in the renewable energy storage market with the largest lithium-ion battery storage facility in the world, to be built for Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, with a completion date of December 1, 2017.
Amazon’s Alexa voice platform has now passed 15,000 skills — the voice-powered apps that run on devices like the Echo speaker, Echo Dot, newer Echo Show and others. The figure is up from the 10,000 skills Amazon officially announced back in February, which had then represented a 3x increase from September.
During official talks with his Brazilian counterpart, Michel Temer, in Moscow on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin hailed the cooperation between the two countries in the field of technologies.
Putin noted that Russia and Brazil already cooperate closely in space exploration and that there are plans to develop cooperation in Earth monitoring from space.
UCSB researchers have proposed a new method for 3D through-wall imaging that utilizes drones and WiFi
The global risk analysis used by big banks, hedge funds, and governments to inform their decision-making around everything from foreign currency investment to foreign aid is getting the machine learning treatment with the launch of the new startup GeoQuant.
A team of researchers in Australia has created a solution that could make solar energy far more accessible.