Artificial Intelligence News from 15 September 2017 - How to Get a Job in AI or Machine Learning (by Ed Tittel)

Computer scientist Arthur Samuel is rumoured to have said that machine learning is an aspect of his field that gives "computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed." That's why machine learning is also considered an element of artificial intelligence, or AI, which deals more generally with how computers can figure things out for themselves. Essentially, the idea is that, given a good set of starting rules and opportunities to interact with data and situations, computers can program themselves, or improve upon basic programs provided for them.
In the mid-1980s, computer scientists hoped to reshape computing and the ability of computers to understand and interact with the world. There was a huge infusion of interest, enthusiasm and cash at that time, but AI did not change the world as we knew it then. Over time, AI was found to be suitable for a relatively narrow set of computing tasks, such as creating viable configurations for complex computes. But AI neither set the world on fire nor redefined its boundaries and shape.

More than 30 years later, AI in general and machine learning are enjoying a spectacular renaissance. These technologies are being successfully applied to deal with all kinds of interesting problems in computing, and are enjoying a broad range of success. Notable accomplishments for machine learning include email filtering, intrusion detection, optical character recognition and computer vision. Machine learning and AI have proven quite effective in applying computation statistics to use data analytics to make predictions and spot trends.

Machine learning is hot, hot, hot

Because some companies build or use technologies that employ machine learning and AI, there has been considerable demand for skilled and knowledgeable researchers and developers. But if anything explains a sudden, sharp spike in demand for such people, it's the increasingly pervasive use of predictive analytics across many fields of business. Most of the Fortune 500, and a great many other companies and organizations outside that fold are now using predictive analytics to seek a competitive edge or to improve their overall ability to deliver goods and services to customers, clients or citizens.

Individuals trained in machine learning are now in considerable demand across the entire employment spectrum. That explains the six-figure salaries that are increasingly the norm for those who land such jobs. Of course, for many who already work in IT or who are heading in that direction, this raises the question of "how can I get a job in AI or machine learning?" The answers are straightforward, if somewhat labour-intensive and time-consuming.

• The traditional approach: Get a degree

• Make the most of MOOC offerings

• Hands-on is where learning gets real

• When you're ready to rock, let the world know

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