As one might expect, many students who graduate with a doctorate in an AI-related field choose to join an AI company, whether it be a startup or a major tech empire.
According to Stanford’s 2021 Artificial Intelligence Index Report, the percentage of new AI Ph.D. graduates in North America entering the AI industry after graduation has risen from 44.4% in 2010 to around 48% in 2019. In comparison, the number of new AI Ph.D.s entering academia has decreased by 44%, dropping from 42.1% in 2010 to 23.7% in 2019.
The eagerness of private industry to offer lucrative salaries to top AI talent is most likely a contributing factor to this trend.
Leading AI companies, such as OpenAI and Anthropic, advertise staggering salaries ranging from $700,000 to $900,000 for new researchers, according to data from salary negotiation service Rora. It has been reported that Google has even offered large grants of restricted stock in order to attract and retain highly skilled data scientists.
While AI graduates are undoubtedly pleased with this shift – who wouldn’t be thrilled with a starting salary that high? – it is having a concerning impact on academia.
A 2019 survey co-authored by researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing revealed that almost 100 AI faculty members left North American universities for industry jobs between 2018 and 2019 – a significant percentage in the context of a specialized computer science field. The study also found that between 2004 and 2019, 16 AI faculty members left Carnegie Mellon, while the Georgia Institute of Technology and University of Washington each lost approximately a dozen.