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Tech Career Insights: Exploring Artificial Intelligence: Understanding the Basics and Its Applications

Exploring Artificial Intelligence: Understanding the Basics and Its Applications

By Simone Markham

50% of developers say that AI is the most promising industry in 2023.

Our 2023 South African State of the Developer Nation survey has shown positive results in terms of AI’s potential growth in the tech community. As a developer in 2023, it’s important to consider what the advances in the AI industry mean for your own career, especially if you’re interested in pursuing a role in AI.

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In this article series, we explore the basics and applications of AI, how to successfully pivot into the industry, and ways in which you can utilise AI in your role as a developer.

What Is AI?

AI is a machine that can simulate human intellect in terms of problem-solving, learning, and adaptation to perform tasks autonomously.

Although we haven’t quite reached (and may never reach) Hollywood’s depiction of an emotionally-sentient robot, there has been huge growth in the industry in the past few years.

AI in Everyday Life

AI is already prevalent in multiple industries, including finance, healthcare, eCommerce, automotive, security, agriculture, robotics and gaming.

In finance, AI is used to assess risk in decision-making processes for something like a loan application, and, in terms of security, for fraud detection. Cybersecurity also uses AI to predict potential threats before they become harmful.

In healthcare, AI is being used to assist in more accurate diagnoses, tailoring treatments to specific patients, and keeping track of patients’ records. It is likely that AI will be utilised more in surgical settings in the future, as well as for major decision-making processes.

Other examples of AI include self-driving cars, chatbots (ChatGPT), virtual assistants (Alexa, Siri), image recognition (which is commonly used for unlocking your phone), navigation apps, chess players, email spam filters, online shopping product recommendations, and security cameras that can detect unsavoury activity.

There are many more examples of AI in your everyday life, and it’s likely that AI will continue to remain prominent in tech-related fields.

AI With Machine Learning and Deep Learning

It’s not uncommon for people in the tech community to refer to AI and Machine Learning interchangeably, considering they are deeply interconnected. Though technically speaking, Machine Learning is a subset of AI and Deep Learning is a subset of Machine Learning.

Machine Learning is an application of AI in which a machine learns and adapts without a human having to program it. It uses mathematical models that leverage small to medium sets of labelled data with features.

Deep Learning is part of a group of Machine Learning methods that utilises neural networks. Neural networks try to imitate a human brain through representation learning from large sets of unlabelled data.

Machine Learning and Deep Learning refer more to the ways of implementing AI — the processes, models and methods for how a machine can imitate human intelligence — whereas AI refers to the capability of a machine to imitate human intelligence.

AI Is Here to Stay

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With AI being the most promising industry in 2023, pivoting into the field could be a great next step in your career.

Especially considering how many other industries are reacting to the changing macroeconomic conditions. Despite multiple companies having to reduce costs due to a lack of funding, Microsoft plans to invest $10 billion into OpenAI in 2023.

There is the common fear of AI replacing humans in the workforce, costing many their jobs. However, currently, AI is only able to mimic human intellect on specific tasks and to a limited degree.

Although the industry is growing exponentially, we probably won’t develop Super AI soon (machines that surpass human intelligence). So it’s unlikely all jobs won’t require human input, especially jobs that require an understanding of and experience using AI. Pivoting into the field now may be able to offer you a stable career in the foreseeable future.

The next article in this series explores how to successfully pivot into the AI industry.

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