The pace of growth in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is expanding faster than most of us even realize. We all know the familiar examples of AI in our daily lives including AI Assistants, such as Siri from Apple, Alexa from Amazon, Cortana from Microsoft, and Google Assistant, and targeted recommendations based on your past behavior on sites like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify.  But now AI is getting to the maturity level where every company needs to wrap their hands around it, which means there are a whole lot of companies that need to either help their employees learn quickly or staff up with those that have more knowledge of AI best practices.

 For most, it is not common to deeply study AI as part of a traditional education curriculum.  So if you want to become an expert you need to look a little outside the box and find your own learning materials and path to expertise.  Luckily, two of the most cutting edge companies using AI, Microsoft and Google, have extensive free resources for those looking to learn about AI.  Both of these companies and a host of others need a whole new class of technologists to help them build the future, so it is well worth the time to check out what resources they have available.  Let’s unpack what they each offer.

Google AI Education

Google AI has organized their free resources in a couple of different ways.  They offer a mix of introductory courses, guides on best practices in specific AI topics, directions for hands on AI experiments to run yourself, videos where experts break down a particular topic or experience working with AI, and even sample code to use to get started building something.  Then, in order to help you sort through what will be most valuable to you, they offer the ability to filter by who you are and what you want to learn about AI, the filters are: business decision maker, curious cat, data scientist, researcher, software engineer, and student. By selecting any of those filters they can curate what will be most relevant to your purposes for learning AI.  

An example of a guide Google offers that may be of interest is their “Rules of Machine Learning”, which is a detailed set of best practices followed by Google’s own engineers.  If you want to get more hands-on and start building you may want to check out Google’s “Deep Playground”, where you can tinker with a real neural network right in your browser, including adjusting the datasets and features you feed in as you watch the outputs.  

 

Microsoft

Microsoft’s AI School has organized their AI resources into what that they refer to as AI Houses.  The topics or “Houses” available include Conversational AI, AI Services, Machine Learning, and Intelligent Edge AI.  As a new user on the site, you can choose which House you want to start with or the site will help you create a custom path just for you with their Path Builder Bot.  

As you think about where your primary interests lie and where to get started, it is helpful to breakdown the four houses into a bit more detail.  The Conversational AI path is where you would start if you want to learn about building bots, natural language recognition, and identifying the intent of users.  It offers classes like “Building An Intelligent Bot”, which has 12 modules and over 8 hours of total instructional video.  

The AI Services House focuses on educating you about pre-built AI services you can leverage in your own technologies, so this can be a much faster way to add the benefits of AI to your own apps or sites without learning all of the underlying models and  technology.  AI Services offers quick tutorials like “Text Analytics”, which is a one hour hands-on module to get you started.

In the Machine Learning House you can go much deeper into learning the models, patterns, and methods you can use to train a computer to perform complex tasks without explicit human direction.  If you want to really dive into the underlying models of Machine Learning, then look into learning paths like the “ML Crash Course”, which offers 13 hours of instruction to get you fully up to speed on ML.  

Finally, the Intelligent Edge House will teach you about how to actually apply Machine Learning models in the real world using cell phones, robots, drones, and Internet of Things devices.  Check out the “AI Robot Lab” or the “Drone Rescue Lab” here to get more hands-on.  

Both Microsoft’s AI School and Google AI offer a powerful and diverse mix of ways to dive really deep into a particular topic in AI or get some broad perspective, so these resources offer a great place to accelerate your learning and experimenting in Artificial Intelligence.