- Microsoft will open a regional hub for artificial intelligence (AI) in Louisville, KY, where the tech giant will invest in AI research and training in fields where jobs could be at risk from the technology, Mayor Greg Fischer announced last week.
- As part of the partnership, Microsoft will open a physical space in downtown Louisville, and will partner with educational institutions to improve digital literacy training. The company will also offer grants and resources to local companies, and host a high-level AI and data science summit next year.
- A major focus will be on avoiding lost jobs from automation, especially in the manufacturing sector. Microsoft CTO Jennifer Byrne said at a press conference announcing the partnership that 28% of Louisville jobs are at risk from automation, according to CNET.
The investment in Louisville will help distribute tech research and training away from the coasts, and bring the industry closer to where some its more disruptive effects will be felt.
Through its educational and business support, Microsoft hopes to limit the impact automation will have on the local economy, while also preparing non-traditional candidates for jobs in AI and data science fields.
It is in keeping with a broad national trend: in a report last year, the National League of Cities (NLC) warned municipalities should take "strategic steps" to prepare their economies and their workforces for increased automation of jobs in the coming decades.
Louisville's manufacturing and health care economies are especially at risk from new technology.
The Microsoft development will also further the city's Digital Inclusion initiative, which has sought to bring technological development to underserved neighborhoods and close the digital divide. On Monday, the city also announced its Resilient Louisville strategy, which includes a plan to "foster a cohesive tech ecosystem to grow tech talent."
Microsoft has said it will invest $5 billion in internet of things (IoT) technology over the next four years, but has been actively working to help governments adapt along the way.
The regional hub will help the company expand its worker and customer base, and show how other mid-sized cities that aren’t traditional tech hubs can take advantage of new advances.