To survive today's high-tech world, job seekers must learn the latest, cutting-edge skills. Google is offering a free online course about "deep learning," which is expected to be a vital technology to advance the search engines of tomorrow.

Share story

Jobs in the high-tech field are becoming increasingly common in the Seattle area as the region undergoes an economic revival. But many recruiters and hiring managers still lament that the pool of available talent doesn’t have the programming or other computer-skills training required to fill these in-demand positions. That may begin to change, however, with the launch of a new, free online course offered by Google about the concept of “deep learning.”

In the thriving world of online search, deep learning is a method to enhance the neural networks of computers to make them function more like a human brain (i.e., machine learning). By “teaching” computers to recognize patterns amid vast amounts of data on the web, deep learning, in essence, empowers these machines to “think” and make more efficient searches that require less input from human users.

These intuitive neural networks have powered some of Google’s recent advancements, such as the search engines behind Google Translate and Google Photos, plus the spoken-word recognition software for Google Voice Search. Facebook is also reportedly using deep learning to improve its face-recognition software.

According to Vincent Vanhoucke, a principal scientist at Google, deep learning is only just now emerging on the computing scene, so demand for skills to harness this technology will be high this year. As a result, Google announced last month that it is offering its Deep Learning Course online, in cooperation with the online academy, Udacity. The course will teach job seekers how to use TensorFlow, an open-source deep learning platform that Google launched in November 2015.

The training can be done at the students’ own pace, and can be stopped and restarted at any time. But if those interested in the course invest about six hours of time for studying each week, and take part in hands-on training, they can expect to complete the training in about three months. And did I mention that it’s free?

In a post on the Udacity site, Vanhoucke said that deep learning can help solve “many of the thorniest problems in computing, from machine perception and forecasting, to analytics and natural language processing,” and has a wide range of applications in the high-tech world.

Before every job-seeker dreaming of a high-paying Google job gets too excited about this golden opportunity, remember that this is not a course for beginners. Deep learning is a “moderate to advanced-level” course that requires some familiarity with deep learning, at least two years of programming experience and some knowledge of a coding language such as Python.

Still, despite these requirements, it can be assumed that many new tech workers in Seattle will be qualified for the course and can open up their careers to new and exciting paths.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at