Technology moves fast. From discovery and creation to application and widespread adoption, disruptive innovations that rapidly transform the way businesses and individuals do things are becoming the norm. Presenting both challenges and opportunities, these advancements are more likely to continue increasing productivity, creating jobs, and making society a better place for present and future generations.
While we definitely see numerous technologies today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the fastest growing and most popular trends in recent times. Numerous studies and articles have identified AI and its gamut of applications to be strategic and disruptive in the coming years.
MIT has an annual list of Top 10 Breakthrough Technologies that have a chance at solving a big problem and opening up new opportunities. Deep learning, a branch of AI, was included in its 2013 list. Three years after, AI applications such as in robots that teach each other, conversational interfaces, and Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving cars made it to the list. Powered by AI, robots that can learn tasks and send that knowledge to the cloud for other robots to learn later will be made available in three to five years, while more powerful speech technology in smartphones and safer autonomous cars driven in variety of conditions are already accessible today.
Gartner, in its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2016, included information of everything, advanced machine learning and autonomous agents and things, which all are equipped by AI technology. These technologies make machines smarter and will shape digital business opportunities through 2020.
Deloitte also identified AI to be one of its exponential technologies – technologies that underwent massive and rapid advancement, and have a positive potential impact on billions of lives. A source of innovation, invention, and discovery, AI together with 3D printing, advanced robotics, virtual and augmented reality, alternative energy systems, biotechnology, and digital medicine has a mass adoption window in the next 18 to 24 months.
Given the huge potential and opportunities that AI offers, learning about it right now is a must for businesses and individuals to remain relevant and competitive. Here are five resources we suggest are great starting points for learning about AI.
Written by UC Berkeley Professor, Stuart J. Russell, and Director of Research at Google, Peter Norvig, Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach is the leading textbook on AI. A good introduction to AI and considered the standard text in the field, the book is used in over 1,300 universities in over 110 countries. It is also the 22nd most cited computer science publication on Citeseer (and fourth most cited publication of this century).
The book has a total of 27 chapters, divided into eight parts. You will learn the basic concepts of AI; problem solving; knowledge and reasoning; uncertain knowledge and reasoning; learning; and communicating, perceiving, and acting. According to the authors, it will take two semesters to finish all the chapters and projects in the book.
To supplement the book, the authors have an online course you can take on Udacity, called Intro to Artificial Intelligence. It teaches the fundamentals of AI, its applications, and future possibilities through videos, exercises, and insights from industry professionals. The online course is free and takes around four months to finish.
Online courses are very popular for individuals who like to study at their own pace, to gain additional skills and knowledge for work or formal education advancement, or simply to fulfill a passion and curiosity.
edX hosts Columbia University’s credit-eligible courses that are recognized by industry and called MicroMasters Program. It offers a total of four courses under AI, namely, AI, machine learning, animation and CGI motion, and robotics. The courses are intended for those who have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science or Mathematics and have basic understanding of statistics, college-level algebra, calculus, and some programming languages.
If your purpose is to simply acquaint yourself with AI in your spare time, taking this course still guarantees industry recognition. On the other hand, if you decide to pursue graduate studies, learners who successfully finish all courses and earn the MicroMasters Credential are eligible to the Master of Computer Science program at Columbia University.
For a more interactive and hands-on way of learning about AI, the Laboratory for Computational Intelligence at the University of British Colombia created AIspace. It showcases tools for learning and exploring concepts in AI.
Also for intermediate learners, it provides tools, applets and practice exercises accessible from the website. The tools are graph searching, consistency for CSP, SLS for CSP, deduction, belief and decision networks, decision trees, neural networks, and STRIPS to CSP.
AIspace tools have been successfully integrated into undergraduate AI courses at the University of British Columbia. The tools are made available online and can be customized for presentations, online tutorials, or assignments which are useful for learners and teachers.
Delving into the more common domains of AI, deep learning enables computers to learn from experience and understand the world in terms of a hierarchy of concepts. A recently MIT-published and well-received book on the field, Deep Learning offers mathematical and conceptual background from the basic concepts of linear algebra, probability and machine learning to different techniques used in industry. It also provides information on deep learning’s applications such as natural language processing and speech recognition, as well as research perspectives on various theoretical topics.
Cofounder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk’s comment about the book: “Written by three experts in the field, Deep Learning is the only comprehensive book on the subject.”
Deep Learning is generally intended for students and practitioners desirous of entering the field of machine learning in general and deep learning in particular. A website for both readers and instructors is available as a supplement.
A domain closely related to deep learning, machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed. For a basic introduction on machine learning, Standford’s Andrew Ng has a course on Coursera that teaches the theoretical as well as practical know-how of the field. It also offers a glimpse of some of Silicon Valley’s best practices in innovation as it pertains to machine learning and AI.
A non-profit scientific society devoted to advancing the scientific understanding of AI, the AAAI promotes research in and responsible use of AI. Established in 1979, its membership spans international and national field experts and practitioners.
The society aims to increase public understanding, improve the teaching and training of practitioners, and provide guidance for research planners and funders. Through the resources available on the website, AAAI promotes the importance and potential of current and future AI developments to the society.
To keep updated with the latest AI advancements, the AAAI resource page is a good reference. It has the comprehensive AITopics page, which is the internet’s largest collection of information on AI–from educational resources to the latest news. AAAI conducts conferences, produces policy papers, and a number of publications which include press books, proceedings, technical reports, and the AI Magazine.
It is worth noting that there are other AI societies across the world.
Living in today’s technology-driven knowledge economy, keeping updated on the latest trends such as AI is an asset for both businesses and individuals. For businesses, it aids in creating more value to existing and new products and services. Added-value is crucial not only to increase revenue but also to stay competitive.
In the same way, continuous learning ensures that individuals have skills that are relevant to fast-changing demands of the market. Whether an entrepreneur or employee, having the right skills and knowledge to leverage present and future technologies effectively are instrumental for constant growth and innovation.
AI is just one of the many emerging technologies today. Keeping an open mind and a mindset of lifelong learning equip us with the right attitude to seize new opportunities being created by advancements in technology every day.