Imagine what AI and Machine Learning can do for you
UM's FIRST micro-certificate program to benefit many professionals
When many people think of Artificial Intelligence, they think of that scary robot assassin in the Terminator movie. But don’t be afraid, says Briana Brownell, content provider for the Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning Solutions micro-certificate program. AI is good for every industry and savvy professionals must be aware of the technologies and how they can determine effective solutions to their most important business challenges like retaining customers, making better products, reducing risk, marketing effectively, innovating and leading in their marketplace.
“This is mission critical for most industries now. There is a push to have technology infrastructure, the ability to collect and analyze data quickly, and to create solutions,” says the founder and CEO of Pure Strategy Inc. noting examples of AI and Machine Learning in action are all around us providing us with relevant data from Netflix recommendations to Facebook news, and even auto-correcting us on our phones.
“One of the biggest challenges in any business is to understand the possibilities of AI and Machine Learning and how to use them in order to achieve what the organization most needs to do. It’s not about AI for its own sake. This program provides a basic understanding of what’s possible and how you can apply it,” says Brownell. “AI is such an effective and useful area for business.”
For professionals and graduate students
This micro-certificate is earned by completing just three online courses. It’s designed for professionals who have some experience in the business world, to provide them with relevant, real-world AI and Machine Learning applications. It will also compliment the studies of graduate students and IT professionals alike by providing them with additional practical experience with real-world data and problems.
Brownell’s courses, “Machine Learning Algorithms and Frameworks”, and “Developing Machine Learning Solutions”, will incorporate examples and case studies featuring a variety of data including customer information, music, images, and photos. “It’s not just numbers and financial data. This applies in every type of industry.”
The courses will also have an important discussion of AI ethics including big questions like how to manage its privacy implications. “These are important conversations for everyone in every business or organization. It’s not just the responsibility of tech or governance. We want people to think about the implications and be involved in the conversations.”
With AI and Machine Learning, “It’s all about the data,” says Arooj Ahmed Qureshi, content provider for the “Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning” course.
“There is no magic. The processing is too complex for the human mind to understand so we train AI to make decisions. We need to understand the steps. We need the tools. We need to do this responsibly. That’s what this program is all about,” says the data scientist at EnPowered.
For IT professionals and aspiring CTOs
For this program, you don’t need to be a computer programmer to understand the industry, how to make a product, and how to keep a check on it. But experienced IT professionals who are usually focused on coding can also benefit from this program because it offers them the bigger picture of the industry. For those who would like to position themselves as Chief Technical Officer (CTO) in their firm, says Qureshi, she would especially recommend the first course. “It gives you the overall picture to add to your coding. That puts you in a strong position, providing you with good insights on the industry.”
As a busy data analyst with over a decade of experience, even Qureshi learned something new from creating this course. In the process, she finally realized why a previous AI Machine Learning project of hers was destined to fail. Medical privacy laws would never allow it.
“You just can’t make everything you can imagine,” Qureshi says. “You need to be responsible for what you design. You may have a great idea and good technical skills but you need to understand the rules and regulations that govern an industry and technology as well.”
Understanding “Responsible AI”, or how to operate within privacy and other laws that apply to such technology, is also an important part of this program.
“I realized a lot by doing this content. Even as a working professional, you don’t always get time to look into things in so much detail. This also gave me a good insight and good perspective… Extended Education programs are created with industry people. It’s important to make this connection with the real world and prior experience or knowledge. This is very good.”
Artificial Intelligence is the backbone of all advances in technology, says Cuneyt Akcora, program consultant from the Faculty of Science. Over time, any intelligent developments in computer science are AI-related. If you want to use them, you need to know the basics.
A new kind of literacy
“I see it as an important new kind of literacy. If you don’t understand AI and Machine Learning, others have an advantage over you. You don’t need to program but you need to understand,” says the professor of computer science and statistics.
“Machine learning is the intersection between computer science, statistics and mathematics. It can be applied to anything, in any company with a lot of data like readings or photos, to clearly predict results. If you have data in a system, if you work in a company, it is good to have an overview of algorithms needed. Automation is becoming even better. These are easy things to do.”
For example, a farmer may want to reduce the use of chemicals in farm operations so they would need to know which data and algorithms to use and then the robots can lead. Or, if you work for a bank, AI is used to assess credit applications. The algorithms automatically deny some applicants and approve others. Or if you work in human resources, algorithms on job search websites narrow down applications for specific jobs. You need to know how they are figuring this out.
“Understanding AI will help you and your company in most of the jobs today,” says Akcora.
“I very much like the practical aspects of this program. It is not coding, and not using data searches. Coding is often automated these days. It is about understanding the decisions made by AI, understanding the main direction, where to focus, the tools needed to know. It is a very nice view of this.”