April 3, 2024

Meet your professor: Apple’s Amit Rawal from AI for Data Analysis

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Meet the professor for our new course: AI for Data Analysis.

Amit Rawal is the Global Product Leader for AI/ML Decision Science & Analytics at Apple. And this is not his first foray in the classroom. He’s been teaching courses off and on for the last 15 at start-ups and corporations across the globe.

For those still considering this course, we sat down with Amit to ask all the questions you might want to know before you sign up for this data analysis crash course.

How did you get your start with AI?

I've been in the data field for a long time, and my first intersection with AI was with personalization. I spent a decade in luxury fashion ecommerce doing personalization, which is essentially machine learning, another type of artificial intelligence. People think of gen AI when they think of AI – but AI has been around for a long time.

What do you think is the most compelling thing about AI right now?

That is a multi-billion dollar question and many have lots of opinions about it. But I think the most compelling thing is its ability to mimic humans' ability to create, and I don’t think anybody knows what that does to the future of creative work. Does it mean you need to become an expert machine whisperer to excel as a creative professional? Human creativity = AI augmented human creativity. And the divide between the augmented and non-augmented will become greater and greater. For me that's a very exciting yet scary thing.

What advice do you have for people who are afraid of AI’s impact?

Being scared about something and not doing anything about it doesn't really help.

The only way to deal with fear is to take it head on. So dive in and learn. If it's scary but exciting, focus on the exciting part. And the good thing is I think this is a technology that's being built with the most natural user interface in mind: our language. So it’s a lot easier to learn than writing code, for instance.

What are you most interested in imparting on new members of the AI class?

I think there is a lot of noise around AI and – while people are excited – they still haven't gotten a hold of how to get value out of it consistently. So I think we're still in the phase of “it's a cool toy, but is it transformational for our lives?” There is promise, and I’m optimistic that we’ll see major impact in the next 5 to 10 years.

So my hope would be, from a data and analytics perspective, students walk away with three very clear examples of how they can go back into their work life and really use AI today to create value for themselves and for the company.

Can you give us a teaser about your course?

We’ve created simple examples around how you can take all the key data analysis and lifecycle questions and use a tool like ChatGPT to become a better analyst. You’ll be able to augment your curiosity with ChatGPT and become one of the world's top analysts. I would love for folks to first understand, then believe, then act on that when they finish the course.

Is there a message you’d like to share with your future students?

I wonder sometimes if they see an individual's background and they think, ‘Oh, they're at Apple, they went to Stanford, it's easy for them, but not for us’. And I want to debunk that. You don't need to have worked for big tech or have a certain degree to be able to get the best out of AI. I want them to believe that they can pick it up and do great things with it.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.

I'm a data-obsessed guy. So I track all possible personal health and wellness metrics and then run analytics, such as regression and causation models, just to understand which factor of my life affects my health outcomes the most. So that's something that's very well aligned with the profession that I'm in and also adds value to my life. I also share these learnings with my friends and family and am thinking of creating a blog soon to share how to use data and AI to work smarter, live longer and feel better. Stay tuned.

What excites you most about teaching with Section?

I really like the emphasis on democratizing expensive education that’s been historically accessible only to a few elites and making it available to the masses at a fraction of the cost. I subscribe to that mission. I think our norms about education and about what it takes to be successful are going to be upended in the next 10 to 20 years. There will be people who will be best-in-class at prompt engineering. You don't need a degree for that, but the value they'll be able to get out of the same tool that everyone has access to will make them seem like a genius.

Sold yet? See Amit in action on April 18th in his AI for Data Analysis course and sharpen your skills (and confidence) in your analytical abilities.

Greg Shove
Section Staff