Wanting to learn AI? Mark Cuban has a free AI bootcamp that may be coming to a city near you – Fortune

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You might know him from his medication company Cost Plus Drugs or from previously owning the Dallas Mavericks. Otherwise you’re bound to know him from his deal-brokering on Shark Tank.

But for many students, Mark Cuban is the reason why they’re able to learn about arguably one of the most important emerging skills right now: AI.

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This year, in more than 18 cities across the country, high school students will be able to learn the latest developments of AI, including ChatGPT, entirely for free through the Mark Cuban Foundation AI Bootcamps Initiative.

“There are two types of companies in the world right now—those that understand AI and those who don’t,” Cuban tells Fortune in an email.

“I want to see more kids ready and excited to learn more about AI and be part of the way it is changing society. By democratizing AI education, we empower these kids to shape their futures and contribute meaningfully to the digital economy.”

Bringing free AI education nationwide

Founded in 2019, thousands of students have AI training in subjects like machine learning, natural language processing, and AI ethics.

The requirements to apply for 2024’s bootcamps are simple. In fact, no coding or tech knowledge is needed. Students just need to be in 9th–12th grade next school year and living within driving distance of one of the camps. The locations include:

  • California: Pasadena; Mountain View
  • Florida: Fort Lauderdale; Miami; Palm Beach Gardens
  • Georgia: Atlanta
  • Illinois: Chicago
  • Indiana: Indianapolis
  • Michigan: Detroit; Pontiac
  • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Missouri: St. Louis
  • Nebraska: Omaha
  • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Texas: Addison; Houston; Plano
  • Washington D.C.

For 2024, each bootcamp will occur over three Saturdays on November 2, 9, and 16 and will host 20 to 25 students. The teachers consist of volunteers from local businesses and corporations. Previously, AI experts from Walmart and McDonald’s were among them.

“It’s not so much that we’re addressing gaps in the education world, but we recognize that teaching kids about cutting-edge technologies is not the strength of most public schools. We’re removing as many barriers as possible to give our students a hands-on way to learn about AI and actually get to use the technology to build applications that solve problems in their daily lives,” Cuban says.

Many universities have taken similar approaches to teaching about the rapidly growing field of AI. Schools like Columbia, Caltech, and the University of Houston offer AI bootcamps. And even companies like Google and IBM have ways to learn AI subjects, prompt engineering for example, online. But, many offerings range in terms of price and are largely entirely virtual.

Cuban’s emphasis on education

This isn’t Cuban’s first foray into the education space. For years, he has been vocal about making college more affordable and easing the burden it places on students—especially when it comes to student loan debt. 

In 2014, he launched a U.S. student loan debt clock (it currently reads at over $2.1 trillion—which exceeds credit card and auto loan debt, combined). More recently, he expressed his support for President Joe Biden’s initial proposal to forgive $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower.

But above all, Cuban has noted that having liberal arts education—and applying it to the world of tech—can be extremely valuable.

“AI needs to be taught about the world as it happens and given different perspectives about the output of models. So try to find ways to apply your liberal arts education to AI, and I think you will be more valued than people expect,” he notes.

AI is widely expected to transform the nature of the workforce in the coming years, with some jobs likely to be replaced and many more complemented by the new technology. According to the IMF, about 60% of jobs in advanced economics may be impacted by AI. 

Cuban’s bootcamp hopes to play a part in preparing students for school and jobs of the future.

“I hope students will use their newfound skills to innovate, create, and ultimately disrupt industries,” Cuban says. “The goal is for them to apply what they’ve learned to build successful businesses and solve problems in their communities. And we hope the camp will be just the start of their AI journey and they’ll continue to learn.”

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