Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not only relevant for science fiction writers.
Robots, automated translations and self-driving cars impressively show what possibilities arise with AI.
But what is AI exactly? And how can you learn more about it – and become an AI software developer yourself?
(Jump directly to the online courses about AI here.)
Keep reading to find out:
1. What AI is
2. Why AI is important today
3. How you can learn more about AI and become an AI programmer
1. What Is Artificial Intelligence? And What Is It About?
The aim of AI research has always been to artificially emulate human intelligence. This is, however, extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. (The problem starts with the definition of "intelligence".)
We speak about Artificial Intelligence today when computer systems solve problems independently.
In contrast to a traditional algorithm ("if problem X, then solution Y"), the machine independently chooses the solution for a given problem.
To be able to do this, a computer system's self-learning ability is particularly important. The computer first needs to learn how certain tasks are solved.
So how can computers learn?
Simply put, by being trained using large data sets. For this, the system is organized as an "artificial neural network", which works in a way similar to the human brain.
The learning process with training data is called Machine Learning or Deep Learning. Thus knowledge is generated from experience – for example, by pattern recognition. Modern statistical methods are used to achieve this.
--> AI systems are no longer being instructed by their programmers with a fixed algorithm for a single solution.
--> The AI system learns independently from huge data sets how problems are best solved.
--> To do that, the system needs to be programmed appropriately.
2. Why is AI Important Today? Why the Hype?
Recent developments have led to an enormous increase in the importance of Artificial Intelligence:
- Internet search (e.g., Google RankBrain)
- E-mail spam filters
- Speech recognition (for example, Siri, Amazon Echo/ Alexa)
- Automated translation (e.g., Google Translate)
- Image recognition (e.g., in radiology)
- Robotics and self-driving cars (connects AI technology and mechanical components)
The AI machines are far superior to human experts in many areas. Reports about achievements in chess and poker, lipreading, and mind reading prove this point. Already pieces of music and paintings can be created independently by computer systems. And even chatbots are beginning to sound natural.
According to experts, Artificial Intelligence will affect many areas of life and most industries in the years to come. Therefore, serious critics like Professor Russel from UC Berkeley begin to consider a possible future threat from "superintelligent" robots (see this speech).
Currently, there are many companies and organizations that require people to fill jobs and projects that arise in the development and application of AI software. IT professionals with relevant skills are, of course, in great demand.
The AI expert says: "Artificial Intelligence is the New Electricity":
(From 2:30, neural networks from 25:30)
3. How Can You Learn More About AI Programming?
We list various books and online courses below that deal mainly with the programming of AI systems. (Some of them are even free.) These are mostly for computer science students or software developers who want to grow their skills. But other interested learners can gain insight in AI as well!
(Note: Basic prior knowledge in certain areas is sometimes required. If you want to brush up on these subjects, check out these courses for example: Essential Mathematics for AI (Microsoft), Mathematics for Machine Learning (Imperial College London), and coding skills in the Python programming language.)
Basic AI Books
Even if they do not replace a university seminar or an online course, textbooks may be a useful addition and learning aid for AI learners. Here are two well-known books:
Online Courses on Artificial Intelligence
Introductory Courses for Beginners
These courses are often designed for students or programmers who want to approach the field of AI. The mechanics of artificial intelligent systems are explained step by step. Some of the courses can be taken for free, while an (optional) certificate may have a nominal cost.
Longer Course Series for a Career Start in AI
These paid course series are usually made up of 4-6 individual online courses (MOOCs). They comprehensively prepare you for a career in this field. You should allow some time in your schedule for these courses over several months. After successful completion, you can receive certificates recognized by potential employers. ("Are the Certificates Worth It?")
This series of courses offers comprehensive training in the field of artificial intelligence, which should enable immediate real-world programming activity. The courses and practical projects were created with industry partners such as IBM and Amazon. The Nanodegree certificate from Udacity is well known by industry experts. Duration: approx. 6 months.
The MOOC series at Columbia University contains 4 courses. In addition to the basics, machine learning and robotics play an important role. The program contains approximately 25% of the content from a master's degree program at Columbia.
This course sequence by leading AI expert Andrew Ng gives a detailed introduction to Deep Learning. The various video courses and projects can be completed within a few months. However, prior coding knowledge is an advantage.
This Nanodegree program from Udacity explains the technical details of machine learning. The lecturer is Professor Sebastian Thrun, who is also the founder of Udacity. The program lasts about 6 months.
Other Interesting AI Courses
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