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Artificial intelligence vs machine learning: what’s the difference?


With the tech industry buzzing with various terms, it can be challenging to keep up. Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in the spotlight, even being named the most notable word of 2024 by Collins Dictionary. However, terms like ‘machine learning’ are also commonly used interchangeably with AI.

Introduced by American computer scientist Arthur Samuel in 1959, ‘machine learning’ refers to a computer’s ability to learn without explicit programming.

Exploring the Variances Between AI and Machine Learning

Machine learning (ML) serves as a subset of artificial intelligence (AI). While these terms are frequently interchanged, especially in discussions involving big data, they have several distinctions in scope, applications, and more.

Deciphering Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence encompasses a collection of technologies within a system that enables it to think, learn, and solve intricate problems. This technology can mimic cognitive abilities like those of humans, enabling it to process spoken or written language, analyze data, offer recommendations, and more.

Understanding Machine Learning

On the other hand, machine learning is a subset of AI that allows a machine or system to learn and improve autonomously from experiences. Instead of relying on explicit programming, it leverages algorithms to analyze vast datasets, derive insights, and use this information to make informed decisions. Through training and exposure to data, machine learning models improve over time.

Relationship Between Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning enables machines to learn from data, while AI encompasses the overarching concept of machines understanding, reasoning, and adapting like humans.

In essence, AI is like the vast ocean containing various marine life forms, while machine learning is a specific fish species in that ocean. Machine learning operates within the realm of AI, representing just one element of the whole ecosystem.

Differentiating Machine Learning and AI

Machine learning aims to create systems that can learn and adapt from data patterns, while AI strives to develop machines capable of performing tasks intelligently and independently, simulating human intelligence across a broad spectrum of activities.

Various Types of Machine Learning

The main types of machine learning include supervised, unsupervised, semi-supervised, and reinforcement learning.

1. Supervised learning involves training the algorithm with labeled datasets where input features and target labels are provided, allowing the algorithm to learn from recognized patterns.

2. Semi-supervised learning utilizes a mix of labeled and unlabeled data to train machine learning algorithms.

3. Unsupervised learning trains algorithms on datasets without explicit labels, aiming to uncover patterns and relationships within the data on its own.

4. Reinforcement learning involves structured learning approaches where algorithms learn by experimenting with different strategies, refining their actions based on previous experiences to achieve optimal results.

Real-World Applications of AI and Machine Learning

In financial contexts, AI and machine learning play vital roles in identifying fraud, risk forecasting, and providing tailored financial advice based on individual behaviors. These technologies have also been instrumental in cybersecurity, aiding organizations in detecting anomalies for enhanced security.

Machine learning has proven invaluable in providing insights during urgent events, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and mobile app developers have used various algorithms to create fraud-free apps for financial institutions.

Image Source: Canva

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