What is Artificial Intelligence?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a discipline of computer science that aims to create machines which can display a certain level of intelligence, similar to humans and other animals.
For a long time, machines performed exactly as they were programmed, that is, they followed a set of instructions. Humans monitored both machine performance and changes in the environment concurrently, and the instructions given to machines were tweaked accordingly.
What artificial intelligence aims to achieve is that the machines themselves analyze and take decisions, that is, they perform and react like their human counterparts. Does that sound too cutting edge? Artificial Intelligence is already a part of our lives. The speech recognition introduced by Google in its Android software is nothing but an example of Artificial Intelligence in action.
The software basically listens to your voice and searches the internet to bring you results. But what if your voice is not clear? Or your accent is strong? Then, the software will display artificial intelligence and based on where you live, your age, gender, interests, your prior searches, and other information collected on you, it will zero in on the most likely meaning of your search request.
Today, Artificial Intelligence has many applications. Many of these are in highly technical areas such as defense, space exploration, and undersea resource finding ventures. Some others are relatively simple – In areas of Germany where labor is hard to come by, robots are used to staff hotels. They can perform all services from check-in procedures to room service. Machines are being taught how to differentiate between different data sources on a quality basis; perform perception, reasoning, learning, and planning and problem-solving abilities.
Why should you care?
Before you start thinking “The Matrix”, lets us explore why you should consider Artificial Intelligence as a future career.
The demand for AI professionals is currently restricted to tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. However, the demand is set to explode in the near future. As the world moves towards more and more automation, AI will eventually penetrate almost all employment sectors.
Basically, organizations are always on the lookout for cost-cutting methods, and intelligent robots which can serve round the clock, and require little maintenance will be favored. You, as an AI expert will be poised to take advantage of this development. Also, the rapid innovations and endless possibilities make this an exciting career option.
Some areas where AI is finding applications right now are:
Cybersecurity – Escalating activities by web criminals affect ordinary citizens, organizations and even governments of different countries. AI can comb through millions of transactions at lightning speed at pinpoint ones which are mostly fraud related.
Data Analysis – Human perception is limited by various factors. Their level of exposure, limited knowledge, inherent biases, and health impact their overall productivity. Intelligent machines have no such limitations. AI can thus analyze big data and spot trends which humans might miss.
Scientific research – Intelligent robots are leading the way when it comes to research. They work faster and are discovering and contributing to science. A robot received widespread recognition for discovering an antidote to malaria by analyzing toothpaste ingredients.
Face recognition – You might have already seen this on crime shows. CCTV footage is analyzed by intelligent machines so that even if a suspect is using a disguise, he can still be recognized.
How to get started with Artificial Intelligence
So now you are bursting with excitement. Luckily for you, the internet offers both free and certified courses to transform you into an AI expert. Many of these courses are provided for free by leading institutions. However, you are only certified on payment of a certain sum on money. Here are some of the most recommended ones:
- Machine Learning
– This course is provided by Stanford University. It is the number one online course for students wishing to get an introduction to machine learning. It is provided on the Coursera platform.
– The course focuses on the theory at the base of artificial intelligence, but also the current practical applications in the tech world. Case studies are also presented.
– The course is taught by the co-founder of Coursera himself.
– A time investment of eleven weeks is required.
– It is not a self paced course. Some weeks will be assignment free, but as a rule, you have to complete and submit all assignments to be assigned a grade.
– The topics it covers are: Linear regression with one variable, linear algebra review, linear regression with multiple variables, octave/matlab tutorial, logistic regression, regularization, neural networks: representation, neural networks: learning, advice for applying machine learning, machine learning system design, support vector machines, unsupervised learning, dimensionality reduction, anomaly detection, recommended systems, large scale machine learning and applications of machine learning in Photo OCR.
Some video lectures and course content is available for free. However, to access all resources and to receive a certificate requires payment. You can apply for financial aid.
- Deep Learning
– This course has been created by Google. It is provided on the Udacity platform and is one of their nano degree programs.
– The course requires a time investment of four months. It is not a self paced course.
– A basic knowledge of machine learning is expected, as the course begins at the intermediate skill level.
– The teachers are from high end research firms such as OpenAI, GoogleBrain, and DeepMind.
– The key take aways from this course will be on topics such as deep leaning, neural networks, Jupyter Notebooks, CNNs, and GANs.
– The nanodegree is accepted by employers such as redbus, Tata ELXSI, Conde Nast and Ola Cabs.
– The course begins on 17th October 2018. The course fees in India are Rs. 44,900.
- Machine Learning Specialization
– This course is offered by the University of Washington via the Courserak platform. It is mostly for students in the fields of scientific research and software developers.
– The course begins at an intermediate level so students are expected to know the basics of machine learning. Strong Python skills are required.
– The time investment of six weeks is required, at a rate of five to eight hours per week.
– The entire course consists of four separate modules – case study approach, regression, classification, clustering, and retrieval.
– The course lessons are free. However, to get certified on completion, you need to pay a fee. There is also the option of applying for financial aid.
- Artificial Intelligence
– This course is offered by Columbia University via edX platform.
– The time investment of twelve weeks is required at a rate of eight to ten hours per week.
– The prerequisites are a strong foundation in engineering, physics and computer science, preferably at the graduate level.
– There a total of four modules in this course.
– This is a MicroMasters program and will cover nearly twenty five percent of the coursework which a Computer Science degree at Columbia University would entail.
– The key takeaways from this course are a solid base in the principle of AI, application of concepts to everyday problems, neural network design and power and applications of AI in physical simulation, robotics, and vision.
– The course fee is $851.40 for the entire program.
These were some of the best courses online to give you a strong base. They will help you progress into more advanced and specialized fields in AI. Since the practical applications of AI are limitless, your creativity and risk taking ability will also determine how far you go in this field. One the whole, AI is the dream career of the future.