What is artificial intelligence and machine learning?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are currently two very hot topics, which are often used interchangeably. AI and ML became incredibly widespread terms thanks to large technology and social media giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Today AI and ML are developing with incredible pace and promise all sorts of advancements, from smarter home and office appliances, to healthcare solutions even the fear that robots will take our jobs.

They are very much related, but they are not quite the same thing. So, let’s explore what each of these terms actually means and what the differentiates them.


A brief history of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Simply said, artificial intelligence makes it possible for machines to learn from ‘experience’, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. It is the broader concept of machines being able to carry out tasks in a way that we would consider ‘smart’.

AI has been around for a long time now. Even the Greek Mythology contains stories about a mechanical man being able to mimic human behavior. But the quest for the development of AI begun during the Second Word War where scientists from many disciplines, including the emerging fields of neuroscience and computing, were brought together to tackle the challenges of intelligent machines. Digital personal assistants like Siri, Alexa and Cortana, smart home devices and security surveillance are just a few of the examples of AI technology that we use in our everyday live.


Machine Learning (ML)

Machine learning is a core part of AI. Stanford University defines ML as “the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed”.

Over the past decade, machine learning has made the concepts of self-driving cars, practical speech recognition and effective web search, a reality. Today, Google is among the technology players who are tirelessly working to make ML a reality. The reality is to ‘teach’ computers to learn the ways human would in order to progress what many consider the next revolution in technology – machines that think like humans. ML techniques are also largely used in the banking and finance industry, to help fight fraud, save time and money for customers and automate back-office functions.


How they differ

The two concepts seem very similar in theory, so where is the difference? AI is basically the intelligence – what makes machines appear intelligent, while machine learning is the implementation of the compute methods that support it. Or simply said, AI is the science and machine learning is the software and algorithms that make machines smart.

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