Should I learn AI or machine learning first?

In recent years, the terms artificial intelligence and machine learning have both been getting mentioned a lot. Many people consider them as being the same but there are some differences between them.

This post will show you how they differ and whether you should learn AI or machine learning first.

So, should I learn machine learning or artificial intelligence first? If you’re looking to get into fields such as natural language processing, computer vision or AI-related robotics then it would be best for you to learn AI first. Otherwise, it would be better for you to start out with machine learning since there is a lot of free material around for you to learn from and it is very high in demand right now.

Machine learning is actually considered as a subset of artificial intelligence. This means that, in reality, there is a lot of overlap in terms of what you will learn regardless of whether or not you start with AI specific material or machine learning focused material.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a broad term for machines that are able to perform tasks in a way that are considered as “smart” similarly to how a human is.

Examples of artificial intelligence could include Tesla’s self-driving cars, Alexa or the robots made by Boston Dynamics such as in the video below:

Machine learning

Machine learning is where you get computers to learn from data and to be able to make predictions from that data without being explicitly told how to do so. The machine learning algorithms will adjust their predictions when new data becomes available to them.

Machine learning is actually considered as a sub-category of AI. The algorithms used in machine learning will tend to do well at the specific task that they are trained to do but they will not be able to figure out how to do a similar task to what they are trained to do.

For example, an machine learning algorithm that is used to recommend products to people won’t be able to recommend videos to them unless it is built again from scratch using data related to how people watch videos.

In order to make use of both AI and machine learning effectively, it is required to make use of large amounts of data and most of the algorithms will require a lot of computational power. AI and machine learning have gained a lot of popularity, in recent years, since there has been a large increase in the amount of data available to businesses and computers have become powerful enough to make use of the algorithms.

You can watch the video below to see how AI and machine learning differ.

Jobs in machine learning

There are many businesses, right now, that are looking for ways to make use of the data that they have available to them and the amount of data that they are receiving is growing. This means that jobs in machine learning are high in demand and are expected to grow in demand as well.

According to Payscale, a machine learning engineers have a median pay of $110,000, the 10th percentile makes $76,000 and the 90th percentile makes $152,000.

Jobs that you can get in machine learning include:

  • Machine learning engineer
  • Data scientist
  • Machine learning researcher

If you want to get a job in machine learning then it will typically be necessary for you to have a masters degree in a field such as computer science. If you want to be a machine learning researcher then a Phd will often be necessary. If you want to get into data science then a bachelors degree with the ability to show relevant experience will be enough to get you in.

If you don’t have a degree then getting a job in machine learning will be difficult. However, some people have been able to enter the field by showing a lot of relevant experience despite not having a degree. I have written, in the past, about how you can go about getting a job in machine learning without one in the past here.

Jobs in AI

Technically jobs related to machine learning will also be considered as AI jobs. However, some job roles that people would typically consider AI would include:

  • Self-driving car engineer
  • Computer vision researcher
  • Natural language processing researcher

In each of these jobs, it will be necessary for you to know a lot of machine learning. They will also typically require a Phd in a field such as computer science or statistics.

Machine learning has a lot of online material to learn from

Both AI and machine learning have a lot of material, online, that you can use to learn from. However, there is more material related to machine learning, there is a lot of machine learning material that does not assume pre-requisite knowledge and AI specific material will often expect you to have familiarity with a lot of the algorithms used in machine learning.

With that being the case, I would recommend that you start out by learning machine learning if you are unsure of which one you should start with. A good free course, that I would recommend, that does not require any prerequisite knowledge that teaches you machine learning would be this one.

Machine learning is very high in demand right now

If you are looking to learn AI or machine learning in order to get a job then I would recommend that you focus on learning machine learning and completing as many machine learning projects as you can.

Machine learning jobs are very in-demand right now, you can sometimes get one with just a bachelors degree and there is a lot of material available to help you in getting a machine learning job. Whereas, AI-type jobs such as computer vision, self-driving car engineers and natural language processing jobs will often require a Phd.

Consider what your goals are

It would help to consider what you intend to do with machine learning or artificial intelligence. If you intend to work in fields related to AI then start with AI. If you intend to work in machine learning then start with that. If you are just interested in AI and machine learning in general then I would recommend that you start by looking at introductory material related to what you specifically are interested in.

Skills required for both AI and machine learning

There are some courses in machine learning that do not have any prerequisite knowledge such as this one and I would recommend that you start there to see if it is something that you are interested in.

However, in order to learn AI and machine learning and to be able to know how to make use of the algorithms, there are some prerequisite skills that you will need to have. In both areas, it will be necessary to understand calculus, linear algebra, probability, statistics, programming and how to do some data analysis in that language. Knowledge of computational complexity will also be helpful especially in AI.

If you need to learn calculus then I would recommend this course on Edx.

If you need to learn linear algebra then I would recommend this course on Edx.

If you need to learn probability then I would recommend this course on Edx.

If you need to learn how to program then I would recommend that you start by learning Python since it is widely used in AI and machine learning. The course that I would recommend to learn it would be this one.

Once you have learned the above, if you want to learn machine learning, then I would recommend that you do this course by MIT.

If you are looking to learn artificial intelligence specifically then I would recommend this book.