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How To Learn AI in 2024

7 minute read | April 9, 2024
Sakshi Gupta

Written by:
Sakshi Gupta

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From autonomous cars and smart manufacturing to personalized shopping, automated disease detection, and government cloud infrastructure, AI is transforming industries and redefining what’s possible in business and society. 

As AI capabilities continue advancing, there is a growing demand for people who can design and deploy AI systems. According to We Forum, the AI space will employ nearly 100 million people by 2025.

With such demand, AI skills will be immensely valuable in the coming years, especially if combined with knowledge of a particular industry or business function.

This article will give you a step-by-step guide on how to learn and master AI technologies from scratch and recommend resources to sharpen your expertise. 

How To Learn AI From Scratch

The path toward learning AI begins with building a solid foundation and progressively advancing to more complex concepts and tools. Contrary to popular belief, you won’t exactly be ready to become a senior AI engineer at OpenAI in a flash, but with enough perseverance, you can get there. 

Here are a few tips to get you started.

  • Master foundational skills

  • Learn specialist AI skills

  • Learn essential AI tools and packages

  • Create a learning plan

Master foundational skills

Before diving deep into AI, you must acquire some foundational skills. This will not only ease your learning curve but also enhance your ability to grasp more advanced AI concepts down the line. Generally, those looking how to learn AI should first focus on: 

  • Basic mathematics: A good grasp of algebra, calculus, and geometry is essential. These areas of mathematics form the backbone of many AI algorithms and models.
  • Basic statistics: Understanding probability, distributions, hypothesis testing, regression models, and statistical methods is crucial, as these concepts are frequently applied in AI to make predictions and decisions.
  • Data management: You also need basic data handling and preprocessing skills, such as data cleaning, storage, retrieval, and visualization.

Learn specialist AI skills

Once you have a solid grasp of the basics, the first major fork in the road appears: your future specialization. While being a generalist is also acceptable, this approach is somewhat limiting if you intend to capitalize on any emerging niches. For specialization, you’re going to want to zero in on: 

  • Programming: Coding skills, especially in popular AI programming languages like Python and R, are crucial since they allow you to process data and build and test models. A good way to learn programming is to use a language like Python for something easy like automating some aspects of your workflow, such as setting reminders or merging PDF files for easier reporting.
  • Data Science: This includes skills in data analysis, visualization, and interpretation, which are critical in developing insights from data.
  • Machine Learning: Gain a deep understanding of machine learning algorithms and how they can be applied to automate decision-making processes.
  • Deep Learning: Dive into the complexities of neural networks and how they can be used for tasks like image recognition, natural language processing, and more.

Learn essential AI tools and packages

To implement AI solutions effectively, you must also be conversant with the top tools and packages used for developing and deploying AI models. The most popular is Python, so you need to get familiar with Python’s rich ecosystem of libraries and frameworks

Some of the most important tools and packages you need to learn include: 

  • Pandas and NumPy for data manipulation and analysis.
  • Scikit-Learn for machine learning.
  • PyCaret for automating machine learning workflows.
  • PyTorch and Keras for deep learning.
  • TensorFlow for a comprehensive, flexible ecosystem of machine learning tools, libraries, and community resources.
  • Matplotlib and Seaborn for data visualization.
  • HuggingFace, Theano, and LangChain for natural language processing, deep learning, and AI language model interaction.

Create a learning plan

Believe it or not, even the most demanding Python library or data science concept pales compared to the threat of disorganized learning. Not only can such an approach hinder your progress, but it can also lead to burnout and hating AI. So, before making any moves, sit down and: 

  • Assess your current skills: Evaluate your knowledge of mathematics, programming, and other relevant areas. This will help you identify the starting point of your learning journey.
  • Set clear goals: Define what you want to achieve with your AI learning. Whether you’re pursuing a career in AI, implementing AI solutions in your work, or exploring AI as a hobby, having clear goals will keep you motivated and focused.
  • Break down the learning process: Divide your learning into manageable segments, starting with foundational skills and progressively moving to more advanced topics. This approach makes the learning process less overwhelming and more achievable.
  • Set a timeline: Allocate a realistic time frame for each segment of your learning. Consider your daily commitments and how much time you can dedicate to learning AI.
  • Review and adapt: Regularly review your progress and adjust your plan as needed. Flexibility is key, as you might find some areas require more time than initially anticipated.

Learning Pathways for AI

There are multiple pathways for learning AI, each catering to different learning styles, time commitments, and career objectives. Below are 4 four primary pathways for learning AI in 2024.

  • Academic degree in computer science or related field

    Pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, data science, mathematics, or a related quantitative field from an accredited college or university is a great way to gain deep knowledge in AI. This route offers rigorous curricula, structured learning, access to experts, research opportunities, and peer learning. 

  • Online courses and certifications

    Online courses are a great option if you’re looking for a flexible and affordable way to learn AI. Some online courses even give you certifications that can bolster your resume and signify that you’re willing to augment your existing knowledge with additional skills. 

  • Self-taught pathway

    The self-taught pathway involves learning using online resources, including lecture videos, forums like Stack Overflow, and code repositories like GitHub. It might be the most cost-effective and ‘customizable’ pathway, but it’s also the most challenging. Hence, many experts in the industry believe that you should only use self-learning as a supplementary method in the beginning and focus on it completely only once you reach an intermediate level of AI know-how. 

  • Bootcamps

    For immersive training in AI, attend full-time or part-time coding and data science bootcamps. These are typically designed to fast-track your learning and prepare you for a career in AI. They focus on practical skills, portfolio building, and job placement. Furthermore, bootcamps provide intensive learning and access to industry professionals for guidance, mentorship, networking, and career support. 

Top 4 Tips For Learning AI in 2024

Here are five tips to make learning easier and faster and help you accelerate your employability. 

  1. Choose your area of specialization. AI has many disciplines, including machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics. Start by exploring these fields to identify which area resonates with your interests and career goals, then specialize in this area. Specializing allows you to focus your efforts and dive deeper into the nuances of a specific domain, making your skill set more refined and targeted.
  2. Practice with hands-on projects. Engaging in hands-on projects solidifies your understanding of theoretical concepts and helps you develop practical skills crucial in the real world. Start with simple projects like automating something doable but still complex. For example, instead of fidgeting with WordPress and one of its 60,000+ available plugins, you can have an AI model code out a basic portfolio website or fill it out with content. But also, WordPress aficionados can deconstruct one of the many available AI plugins and see how they work firsthand. 
  3. Join a community. Joining AI or data science communities, whether online forums, social media groups, or local meetups, can also enhance your learning journey. Communities provide a platform for knowledge exchange, networking, collaboration, mentorship, and staying updated on AI trends, tools, and technologies.
  4. Apply your knowledge to real-world projects. Look for opportunities to apply what you’ve learned in actual projects, whether through internships, volunteering for open-source projects, or creating your own initiatives. Generally, open-source contributions are the best way to learn AI in a practical sense. You’ll be able to find projects of varying degrees of difficulty, as well as having the opportunity to learn. Afterward, once you feel comfortable enough, you can create bespoke projects, software, and presentations. These will be invaluable when you’ll eventually be looking for high-paying AI jobs, as they’ll showcase your ability to utilize knowledge within a pre-determined set of rules. 

Wrapping Up

With AI technology gaining more traction this year and companies racing to integrate AI into their operations, demand for AI talent will only keep soaring. Learning AI, in even its most basic form, offers immense career potential.

While learning AI may initially seem intimidating, it has never been more accessible. Whether you choose an academic route, online programs, self-guided education, or intensive bootcamps, clear pathways exist to start from scratch and reach competency. 

Arm yourself with a structured learning plan, practical hands-on projects in your specialty, and a community to continue advancing your skills. And don’t forget—never compare yourself to anyone. We all learn at different paces and any deviation is just calling for a nasty case of burnout. 

Since you’re here…
Curious about a career in data science? Experiment with our free data science learning path, or join our Data Science Bootcamp, where you’ll get your tuition back if you don’t land a job after graduating. We’re confident because our courses work – check out our student success stories to get inspired.

About Sakshi Gupta

Sakshi is a Managing Editor at Springboard. She is a technology enthusiast who loves to read and write about emerging tech. She is a content marketer with experience in the Indian and US markets.