Essential to scientific research and invention is the ability to interpret data and translate to information. As a consequence we are seeing the rise of new computing methods. Machine learning has grown in practice as an interdisciplinary field incorporating methods from such areas like data analysis, statistics, data mining, pattern recognition and predictive analytics.
Recently, as I searched extensively about the potential impacts of recent developments on human activities, the frequency/occurrence of a few words gave me the direction technology is tilting toward i.e. AI, Data Science, Machine Learning, Deep Learning.
I have done some comprehensive research on Natural Language Processing to realize that the future is for those who can control data without any structural formulation constraints.
The journey wasn’t that pleasant initially, the journey began in February 2018 if I recall very well. A close friend of mine posted our photo on Facebook and the program recognized my face automatically and picked me out in the picture among 5 people asking if I wanted to be tagged in the picture (it said, ‘Want to be tagged in this picture’)!
This has sparked my curiosity and if you know me well, I love it when machines behave like humans. I started searching to find out that a machine learning algorithm is checking and learning the pattern of all the photos uploaded over the years. Okay, one can say, they don’t have the absolute right to do so, but the sheer beauty and strength of the technology in that singular act was intriguing. It should also be mentioned however that all users have signed up to improve the system, and they may actually use that as an excuse to utilize the information from people to build a greater knowledge base.
Fast-forward to 2019, while my initial focus was pictorial machine learning, machine learning as an area in artificial intelligence is beyond matching images. It embraces all data, whereas the magic behind Facebook machine learning is Rosetta.
Now we extend this to other areas of human endeavor.
We have self-driving cars. What it means is that very soon the need for human drivers will be eliminated. With great companies like Uber, Tesla, Lyft, and Google pumping millions of dollars for the development of self-driving cars, the research in this field is among the hottest that there is right now. Such cars will be powered by Reinforcement Learning algorithms at its core. Once a solid learning algorithm is in place, humanity will be able to avoid millions of deaths per year that are caused by road accidents.
The roads will be safer and the problem of traffic jams can also be eliminated, but I fear, Nigeria has a long way to go in this area.
A more realistic application for the Nigerian environment is the speech recognition system. This type of system is already in place in some hi-Tech and multinational companies.
As mentioned above, Siri, Google Assistant and maybe Cortana are all powered by Natural Language Processing(NLP) based AI systems. Everything revolves around NLP, so the future belongs to people that are very competent in NLP.
AI is a technology that has shown great promise in a number of fields (Healthcare, Government, Transport, and Education). At the cost of repeating myself, I’d say someone with the right attitude and willingness to put in the effort can learn AI and contribute their share of human societal development.
If you are just starting, you do not need a masters or Ph.D. degree from a university that will cost you a fortune. You can get started almost for free. There are numerous platforms like Coursera, Udemy, Udacity, etc that are going to get you started in this field in no time.