Editor’s Note: “The Economic Development Side” originally appears in the Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce’s weekly member e-newsletter. It is written by Rhonda Dishner, the Economic Development Alliance’s executive assistant.


Arkansas is preparing its next-generation workforce for the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution that has already begun.


In-state universities demonstrated their involvement with teaching these emerging technologies at an Artificial Intelligence Campus Demonstration Showcase Feb. 15 at Arkansas State University’s system office in Little Rock.


Universities represented were Arkansas State, the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Philander Smith, Arkansas Tech and University of Arkansas campuses at Fayetteville, Little Rock and Pine Bluff.


AI team projects that were showcased included medical imaging, genomics, agricultural data analysis, web service systems and self-driving cars/transportation.


A long-time advocate for local workforce development, Economic Development Alliance President Lou Ann Nisbett was among attendees for the half-day program.


Knowing that industry is increasingly turning to the use of robotics and AI, she was eager to hear the scheduled instructor presentations and see the student demonstrations to learn how Arkansas higher education is preparing students for the future-now environment.


“It’s really amazing all the applications of AI that are already being implemented,” Nisbett reported later. “And I’m proud that our state has many highly regarded academics and researchers in the related fields and they are inspiring students at our universities.”


She admits to not understanding all of the technical language spoken by the university professors.


“But it was clear the students are engaged in their studies, and they are preparing for their future,” she said.