Educate yourself about AI – In this article, we’re going to learn why basic AI literacy will be so important during the AI technology revolution. In addition, I’ll provide you with recommendations on how best to educate yourself about AI.
Why is education important during a technology revolution?
Why can’t we just continue going about our day-to-day lives as the world changes around us?
With each of the previous technology revolutions, there was a need to update human education to function in the new world. With the agricultural revolution, humans had to become proficient with agricultural technologies. As a result, we had to learn how to farm, domestic animals, and use a plow.
With the industrial revolution, humans had to become proficient with industrial technologies. As a result, we had to learn how to operate steam engines, run machinery, and use electricity. And with the information revolution, humans had to become proficient with information technologies. As a result, we had to learn how to use telephones, work with computers, and program software.
With the AI revolution, humanity will once again need to update its skill set to become literate in the basics of AI. We will need to learn how to train AI models, develop AI applications, and use AI tools. You see, whether you realize it or not, our world are going through a major transition as we speak. We’re entering the era of of artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
A future where machines will be doing many of the jobs that humans are currently doing today. As a result, the software industry is preparing to go through a major workforce transition as well. In the past, we would have to explicitly program a computer (step-by-step) to solve a problem. This involved a lot of if-then statements, for-loops, and logical operations.
Today, however, machines can teach themselves how to solve problems on their own – we just need to provide the data. Now this is a radically different way of working with a computer than we are used to as software developers and IT professionals.
While there’s a growing demand for individuals with the skills necessary to implement AI solutions. There is currently a shortage of people capable of teaching machines how to solve problems in this new way.
As a result, those with the skills necessary to leverage AI are commanding significantly higher salaries. And this trend doesn’t seem to have any end in sight. Think back to our last major technology revolution – the information revolution. Each of us had a choice to either learn how to use a computer or stay computer illiterate. Think of all the opportunities that computer literacy has afforded you over the years.
And think of all the disadvantages for those who can barely use a computer. The same will be true of AI literacy during the AI revolution. Those who are AI literate will be highly-functional in our new economy. Those that are not will sit on the sidelines and eventually become obsolete.
So, how should you educate yourself about AI?
What should you be doing today to teach yourself about this new set of technologies? Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It really depends on what your objectives are for learning AI. However, I have some general recommendations that I think will help get you pointed in the right direction.
First, start by learning the basics of AI.
Basic AI literacy will be important no matter who you are or what you want to do with AI. You need to learn the difference between what is real vs. what is hype.
What can AI do successfully today vs. what things are currently impossible or impractical?
Learn the basics of data science, machine learning, deep learning, and reinforcement learning. Learn what they are, how they work, and why they are important for AI.
And learn the difference between the various types of AI like:
- Narrow AI vs. General AI,
- symbolic AI vs. data-driven AI,
- and supervised learning vs. unsupervised learning.
Everyone in the general public will need to have a basic level of AI literacy in order to function effectively in an AI-driven society.
Second, choose an objective with AI.
What do you actually want to do with artificial intelligence?
Do you want to automate decisions, predictions, or tasks with AI?
If so, you’ll need to learn how to train new AI models using machine-learning algorithms.
Do you want to solve new problems with AI software?
If so, you’ll need to learn how to develop AI applications using pre-trained AI models. Or, do you just want to be more productive with your own day-to-day tasks?
If so, you’ll need to learn how to use pre-built AI tools created by 3rd-party providers.
You need to decide what you want to do with AI first before you can decide what AI skills you’ll actually need.
Third, get the right training.
There’s no one-size-fits-all training for your AI education. For each objective we previously mentioned, there is an ideal curriculum and learning path. If you want to train new AI models using existing machine-learning algorithms, then you’ll need training in both data science and machine learning.
If you want to develop new AI applications using pre-trained AI models, then you will need both programming skills and the ability to use pre-trained AI models. Or, if you just want to use pre-built AI tools, then you just need basic AI literacy and training on how to use each of these AI tools as necessary.
What’s important is that you get the right training based on what you actually want to do with AI.
Fourth, you need to practice your skills.
No matter which career path and training you choose, you are going to need lots of practice. It’s one thing to know what a neural network is. However, it’s an entirely different thing to be able to train a neural network to detect fraud. You can participate in online competitions (like Kaggle competitions) to apply your skills while learning from your peers.
You can create or maintain an open-source project to share your knowledge with others while you learn. Or you can find low-risk projects at work to practice your new skills and build your portfolio. Ultimately, you need to find lots of opportunities to practice the skills that you’ve learned and build up your resume.
Finally, choose reliable sources of information.
Unfortunately, there are some people out there that are just trying to take advantage of you to take your money. So, you want to avoid the AI hucksters, charlatans, and snake-oil salesmen out there. Look out for people trying to dazzle you with a bunch of big hype and buzz words or people that are making grand or unrealistic claims.
Instead, you want to find trusted sources for all of your information and training. So, be sure to check your source’s credentials, qualifications, and experience.
You want to make sure that you’re getting the most value possible for your investment in your AI education. To recap our first recommendation:
- educate yourself about AI,
- Learn the basics of AI,
- choose your objective for using AI,
- get the right training for that objective,
- practice your skills extensively,
- and choose reliable sources for your education.
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