Recent advancements in the field of Machine Learning (ML) have thrust Artificial Intelligence (AI) back into the spotlight. Notably, the evolution of the generative pre-trained transformer (GPT-3) has marked a groundbreaking milestone, that enables for the first-time human interaction with AI through conversational language. The release of ChatGPT and similar chatbots has democratized this technology, making it accessible to anyone with a smartphone and internet connection. However, as with any innovation, scepticism arises, with some arguing that the drawbacks of AI may outweigh its benefits. While we cannot predict AI’s trajectory with certainty, it is our collective responsibility to harness its capabilities for the betterment of humanity and address pressing global challenges. In this blog post, I will share my perspective on the matter and offer a practical guide on delving deeper into the realm of AI. As H. Jackson Brown Jr wisely stated, “The more you know, the less you fear”.
A bit of history
Artificial intelligence has been around for a while, yet in recent years it has drawn people’s attention once again. But this time is a bit different. In the early 50s, Alan Turning introduced the idea of a “thinking machine” for the first time proposing the famous “Turing test” that could determine if a machine is intelligent or not. Later in 1957, Wertheimer theorized the idea of perceptron’s by drawing inspiration from the human brain and its neuro-connections. People became both excited and worried about the idea of AI which started being introduced in movies and books as an alien entity with the frivolous desire to ravage humanity. However, a few years later two very prominent AI scientists and academics Minsky and Papert started having concerns and they challenged the capabilities of this innovative architecture. That doubt led to a time when no new improvements were made in the field which marked the beginning of a stagnant period – an era also known as the “AI winter”. By the year 1990, a new sub-division of AI called Machine Learning (ML) was introduced giving Artificial Intelligence a different perspective to improving the accuracy of models through a more rigorous and sound mathematical foundation. Sectors such as computer vision, generative models and causal systems have since been invented and have revolutionized the way we were approaching AI and helped us move towards a more generic type of intelligence. Yet, the discovery that truly revolutionized the field is the invention of the Transformer by the Google AI Research team; an architecture that has allowed the development of some amazing ground-breaking models such as the AlphaFold by Google DeepMind (which solved the protein folding problem) and GPT by OpenAI (which created the world’s first functional conversational language model – ChatGPT). The successful development of this architecture has allowed many enthusiasts to be optimistic about the future of AI giving us all hope about the potential we can unlock by scaling and improving these algorithms further. The success of this architecture made one think clearly: this time AI is here to stay!
Why is AI such a big deal?
A fair question to ask ourselves is “Why is AI such a big deal”? And the short answer to that is that it affects us daily. Many of us may not even notice when and how frequently we interact with AI agents in our lives, but the truth is that we do way more frequently than you might be thinking. From the Instagram algorithm to YouTube’s recommendations and the spam filtering tool used by most email providers, AI is already changing the way we interact with technology. It shapes the way we perceive reality and if it is used maliciously, it can push political agendas and even alter our belief and moral system. Its rapid evolution has given us an important wake-up call to look at these ethical implications more seriously. Most of the experts in the field have substantial concerns about creating an intelligence far more knowledgeable than humans – a point in time known as the singularity – and therefore we have seen an increasing initiative towards the direction of establishing organisations that will overview the development and ensure the safety of new AI inventions before being allowed to launch to the world. Regardless of how long it takes before we reach the singularity, one thing is certain – ChatGPT as the precursor of all intelligent chatbots has marked the beginning of a new era, an idea better described by Max Tegmark’s book titled: “Life 3.0”.
To stay informed and adaptable, everyone should at least gain some familiarity with the idea of an artificial agent able to assist humans and carry out a variety of tasks. But for those that want to be ahead of the rest and embark on the exciting journey of understanding what AI is and how it works, I have just the right guide you can follow.
How to structure your journey?
Getting into any new field may seem intimidating at first, especially when you don’t know where or how to begin. The abundance of online resources and online courses you can find for free on the web make this introduction even more complicated and overwhelming. So how do you get started? Well, that depends on what you want to do. If you want to go deep into the field and research the fundamental questions of AI then I would suggest you get yourself a good book such as “Applied Machine Learning and AI for Engineers” by Jeff Prosise, “deep learning book “from MIT or “Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning” by Christopher M. Bishop and follow it through from beginning to end. If you are not into books and you think a course would be more beneficial for you, then the classic Andrew Ng course “Intro to Machine Learning” is the resource that can’t be omitted from any “how to get started with AI” list. However, if you are interested in the practical applications of AI and Machine Learning then the best way to learn is through practice. You can find amazing channels on YouTube such as Sentdex, Nicholas Renotte, SirajRaval, and the official Tensorflow channel that have tons of hours of content for building interesting machine learning models and explaining the ideas behind them. So, my suggestion is to pick something and stick to it. Along the way, as you become more experienced, you will come across many more complicated designs and architectures and having that fundamental knowledge to support your learning will be essential. It will take time but that’s the best way to master this new field and you have platforms like SkillStruct that can provide you support, resources and links via SkillStruct University to make this journey easy. So, strap your belts and enjoy the ride!
The future of AI
The future of AI holds boundless potential and exciting possibilities. As technology continues to advance, we can expect AI to play an increasingly prominent role in the industrial and personal sectors. With the rapid evolution of machine learning algorithms, AI systems will become even more sophisticated, capable of processing even larger amounts of data and making more complex decisions in real-time. From healthcare to transportation, finance to education, AI will revolutionize the way these industries approach their streamlining processes by improving efficiency and augmenting human capabilities. As AI becomes more pervasive, ethical considerations will gain paramount importance, prompting the establishment of robust frameworks and regulations to ensure responsible AI development and deployment. The development of explainable AI will be crucial to gaining public trust and understanding the reasoning behind AI-driven decisions since it will provide a more transparent way of understanding its decision-making and allow humans to intervene if something goes wrong. As we embrace the future of AI, a collaboration between humans and intelligent machines will flourish, leading to groundbreaking innovations and addressing some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. If we approach AI with vigilance and a commitment to its responsible use, we can look forward to a future where AI enhances our lives, fosters creativity, and unlocks new frontiers of knowledge and discovery.
In conclusion, AI is an incredibly important technology that has the potential to shape our daily lives and revolutionize the way we work and interact with technology. Everyone needs to have a universal understanding of why technology is so important, and the role AI plays in shaping our world. By gaining familiarity with AI through coursework and hands-on experience, individuals can develop a deeper understanding of its capabilities and how it can be used to solve real-world problems. The future of AI is exciting, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to evolve and impact our lives and shape our future!