At an event in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced it was pledging $1 billion to its new “Grow with Google“ initiative that will help re-train people who are about to lose their jobs due to AI-fueled automation. It’s the company’s biggest philanthropic push to date, but even Google admits it hasn’t created the problem they are now trying to solve. In a blog post, the company noted that Grow with Google was necessary due to new technologies, “many of which are being pioneered by Google’s AI advancements” and which “is expected to replace many workers in the United States and around the world.” Um, thank you?
Whoever caused it, programs like this seem increasingly necessary, since machines could take millions of jobs over the next few years. To ameliorate the situation, Google is offering 50,000 Udacity scholarships for Android and web development, split between newbie developers and old hands, and will be touring the country in the coming months to provide hands-on training. The company is also partnering with Goodwill Industries to help train 1.2 million people over the next three years.
As the tech giants take cover from increasing public and political scrutiny over their influence, some in Silicon Valley are thinking harder about how to blunt the industry’s uglier economic impacts. Apple said in May it would invest $1 billion in advanced manufacturing in the U.S., and in January Amazon said it would hire 100,000 new employees by the end of 2018. And if pledges like these and other philanthropic education efforts like the tech-funded Code.org can’t address the robot challenge, well, there’s always just handing out money.