What is the best way to learn artificial intelligence for beginner?
TamilTamil July 19, 2021 at 2:46 am
Reading some of the answers gave me a chuckle or two, so I suppose I should start by saying I am someone who has spent the better part of the last 40 years doing AI (long long before there was an Internet, cellphones, Facebook, Google etc.). Let’s first disabuse ourselves of some wrong-headed notions:
AI is not and never has been a subfield of anything, least of all mundane and (in my mind, boring) topics like software engineering (no offense to the wonderful number of people who do SE, but it has never been my cup of tea! To each his/her own, and I’m sure plenty of SE people feel this way about AI). There is absolutely no need to write code to understand AI, at least at the beginning. Far from being helpful, it can actually be discouraging. What you need to do, first and foremost, is understand the problem.
AI is one of mankind’s great quests, to build a machine that in some way resembles us, to try to capture our wondrous abilities at managing the immense amount of information that filters through our sensors. Every time you read a newspaper or lift your hand to grab a cup of coffee (perhaps while you are reading this article), you are accomplishing a task that most machines cannot do, and even worse, the best minds of a generation have still not figured out how to get a machine to do.
AI is, in short, attempting to reverse engineer the human brain. We understand the universe in many ways, from the largest scale of galaxies to the tiniest scale of bosons and fermions. We understand life and heredity, the double helical structure of DNA. It is an unceasing source of embarrassment that we don’t understand ourselves at the most basic level. When you recognize your mother, how precisely do you do it? What information is stored in your head that makes you recognize your mother, your spouse, your pet, your boss, a car, and a million other things that make up your life? We don’t know. All we know is that millions of years of evolution have equipped our brains with some marvelous way of extracting information from noisy high dimensional sensors (eyes, ears, touch, etc). Despite our best efforts, we still have very little understanding of how the brain accomplishes any of the significant tasks that makes us human.
A 3 year old child can do with ease the most amazing tasks that no machine has never been able to do, not all the vast computing power that a Google or Amazon can muster, with all their vast petabytes of storage and banks of supercomputers. Every normal child can learn a language (ANY language) by simply being embedded in a culture where people are speaking that language. A child is NOT taught a language. Unlike the au courant fashion of deep learning, no child is given vast hard drives of annotated language and asked to memorize it day in day out. No, as Einstein put it so eloquently, “Subtle is the Lord”. Nature is ever so cleverer than humans are, and has devised a magical learning machine in a child’s head that gives her or him the capacity of learning language. 50 years of intensive research have led us no closer to cracking this mystery of mysteries.
Above all, to learn AI, you must first develop an appreciation for the problem we are trying to solve, the great challenge that lies before us. Don’t write a line of code, please, and don’t waste your precious brain on learning some silly APIs. What we need most of all in AI are thinkers, not programmers. We need people with imagination (my favorite research topic these days). We need young minds to help us solve the greatest scientific challenge mankind has ever faced: decoding how our brains work.
If you feel an urge to program, pick the most basic of skills, say face recognition. Try writing a program that takes someone’s face and identifies it. Or someone’s voice and recognizes it. Or takes a sentence in English or Chinese or Japanese or Portuguese, and explains what it means. In short, take any task that you do thousands of times a day without effort, without a moment’s thought, without hesitation. You will rediscover what a generation of AI researchers have discovered before you. In between your ears lies the most amazing computer ever designed, and we are mostly ignorant of how it works.
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