Google Launches AI Essentials Course To Promote Racial Equity And Economic Opportunity

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to grow in power and availability. With the expansion of tools like Open AI changing the digital workspace worldwide, there’s growing concern about where the average person can fit in.

The increasing discussions on the impact of AI on economic mobility has led to questions on how it will impact the Black community. A recent study from the McKinsey Institute for Black Economic Mobility examines the potential AI could have on widening the racial wealth gap.

To ensure an inclusive move into AI, Google is working to bridge the gap through two new initiatives that promote racial equity and economic opportunity for historically overlooked communities. On Friday, April 26, Google launched the AI Essentials Course and AI Opportunity Fund.

“Research shows that employers are increasingly looking for AI skills, but not everyone has access to AI training,” Maya Kulycky, Google Research’s vice president of strategy and operations, tells BLACK ENTERPRISE.

“We created the AI Opportunity Fund to help make AI training universally accessible throughout the U.S. Through the fund, we’re providing grants for best-in-class workforce development to organizationslike Goodwillthat have great reach in local communities and a track record of helping diverse workers upskill.”

The AI Essentials Course, developed by AI experts, provides foundational AI skills for a flat fee of $49. It provides participants with the best practices and responsible use of AI to enhance productivity and decision-making across various industries. Google’s aim for the course is to expand economic opportunities for individuals and communities alike.

The course serves as “a great entry point for anyone looking to learn more about generative AI and how to use it effectively and responsibly,” Kulycky says. The online course can be completed in under 10 hours and provides lessons that can be applied across all generative AI tools.

“By taking the course, you’ll get practical, hands-on experience using AI to help with work through videos, readings, and interactive exercises,” she explains.

“The course will help people-—regardless of their job or industry—use generative AI to develop ideas and content, make more informed decisions, and speed up daily work tasks,” Kulycky adds. “For example, if you’re a marketer, you can use the course to draft a marketing outline, research audience insights, and produce creative content ideas. After completing the course, people will earn a certificate from Google that they can share with their professional network.”

Maya Kulycky, Google Research’s VP of strategy and operations. (Photo courtesy of Google)

The AI Opportunity Fund aims to provide free AI training across a diverse array of sectors. With a goal of targeting underrepresented groups—including Black, Latinx, Indigenous, AAPI, people with disabilities, rural residents, and veterans—this initiative seeks to democratize AI education and foster widespread technological engagement.

“Google has always believed that the opportunities created by technology should be available to everyone,” Kulycky shares. “That includes ensuring digital skills training is available to people in all communities throughout the U.S.—regardless of their zip code or background.

“Providing AI training to diverse workers is essential to leveling the playing field and helping everyone experience the economic benefits of AI,” she adds.

When it comes to America’s racial wealth gap, Black Americans hold about 38 cents of every dollar of new household wealth, despite representing 13 percent of the U.S. population. If this trend continues and projections for the growth of Black households are accurate, by 2045, the racially disparate distribution of new wealth generated by AI could widen the wealth gap between Black and white households by $43 billion annually.

Google hopes its new AI initiatives will help combat any fears or concerns the Black community might have about the growth of AI.

“When people begin using AI technology, they start to see that it’s beneficial, assistive, and helpful to their everyday work. When people haven’t had the opportunity to learn about a new technology, that often results in concern with the unknown,” Kulycky says.

“We believe Google’s AI Essentials course and AI Opportunity Fund will help,” she says. “Our aim is to break down barriers to using AI, so that everyone can become comfortable with the technology and start to benefit from it.”

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