Field in focus: AI & ml

Invest in tech: artificial intelligence and machine learning

There is a demand-supply mismatch of jobs in cutting-edge IT fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Invest in tech: artificial intelligence and machine learning

Diwakar Chittora

There is a demand-supply mismatch of jobs in cutting-edge IT fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.  Two trends are indicative of the fact. First is via industry predictions — these estimate the growth in the AI market from $21.46 billion to $190.61 billion between 2018 and 2025. Year on year growth is projected to be an impressive 36.62 per cent during the same period. 

The second trend is that  major Indian IT firms in the US are reportedly ‘hoarding’ employees in these two fields as they foresee a shortage in skilled experts. They also fear a corresponding rise in the cost of hiring employees for tech contracts they have bagged for the future.

From theory to practice 

Unlike the fictional robots of the 2001 Steven Spielberg movie of the same name, artificial intelligence (AI) in reality is tamed. AI is defined as computer-controlled robots or programs that think intelligently, mimicking the manner in which humans think. 

A computer program with AI can solve generic problems it is programmed to instead of just specific ones. They can accommodate new modifications without breaking structure. Traditional programers would have to sort, sift and debug thousands of lines of code to make modifications.

The application 

AI finds applications in strategy games, such as chess or poker where advance moves are determined by heuristic logic, natural language processing, virtual assistant technology, image and speech recognition and automated robotics. General AI systems that can solve any given problem are rare. Insurance and banking organisations regularly use AI to monitor fraud. 

Marketers use AI every time you shop online to gather your browsing habits and predict what you are most likely to buy. They will then advertise those products through pop-ups and logos. Self-driving cars, auto-pilot modes and smart homes using sensors, all rely on AI and affect daily lives of consumers.

There is also a difference between AI and Machine Learning (ML), although a number of articles on the web club them together or use them interchangeably. “ML is the study of computer algorithms that improve automatically through experience,” according to Tom Mitchell of Carnegie Mellon University. It is simply one of the ways we use to achieve AI or something closer.

Way to acquire AI & ML skills

By some estimates, AI will create nearly 2.3 million jobs by next year. It might also make 1.7 million jobs obsolete, but those would need to be replaced by 0.5 million new jobs. Nearly all forms of enterprise — software, factory automation, transport and other industries are increasingly using AI-based interfaces in their daily operation. In fact, by 2030, AI may end up offering $15.7 trillion to the global economy.

Mathematical and programming skills are central to acquiring competency in this field. However, for seasoned tech professionals, it is also quite important to develop excellent communication skills. An understanding of how business works and the common processes used in day-to-day operations will help you better utilise your core competencies to improve organisational workflows. 

Core competencies

For complete beginners, programming using C++ is a mandatory requirement. Also necessary is an understanding of how algorithms are created and executed.

Typically, knowledge and expertise in Bayesian networks, neural networks, cognitive science theory, engineering, physics, robotics, undergraduate algebra, calculus, statistics and probability are very essential to hone your skill in ML.

Graduates in computer science need to supplement their knowledge of math and computers with a specialised course in AI & ML.  

Scope in India

  • Analysis of professional networking site has shown that India is the third best-placed economy after the US and China to crack AI jobs and careers with high penetration of AI awareness. A lot of investments were made in AI start-ups in 2016.
  • There will be rising application of AI in healthcare to detect and diagnose health issues in individuals. 
  • Smart infrastructure to help balance rapid growth in urban centers in India is also an option being explored by the government. 
  • B Tech programmes now include AI, IoT, machine learning. However, constant changes in this dynamic field have made it mandatory for professionals to push for up skilling. 

—The writer is CEO, Intellipaat


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