As technology continues to reach new frontiers, we’re finding better ways to make our lives easier. One of the most exciting and progressive fields to study in tech is AI development and becoming an AI developer. If the thought of programming a machine to perform complex tasks excites you, a career in artificial intelligence may be worth considering.

Here, we take a look at what exactly AI development is, and how you can start pursuing a career in this field.

Table of contents

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Before jumping the gun, it’s essential to understand what Artificial Intelligence (AI) actually means. At its most basic form, AI is a complex software that’s able to complete tasks or solve problems. The idea is to get a computer to think like a human brain.

AI systems deploy algorithms like ‘machine learning’ to collect data. It then uses newly acquired information to learn a particular task and improve over time. Take YouTube’s algorithm, for example. Its system ascertains what type of content you enjoy and then displays similar videos.

The advantages of programming software that’s capable of learning are endless. On the other hand, many experts have also raised questions about its safety and whether it’s ethical. These concerns centre around the possibility that a program could evolve into something far more ominous than intended.

Fortunately, we’re still a long way from the killer robots synonymous with sci-fi movies. That said, AI development continues to change the tech industry landscape, bringing new possibilities to just about every aspect of our lives.

What Are the Three Types of AI?

Artificial Intelligence is an umbrella-like term that encompasses three different types of machine learning. These are:

  • Narrow intelligence
  • General intelligence
  • Superintelligence 

Understanding what each field is about will help you pursue the right career for your set of skills. So, what’s the difference between these three types of AI?

For starters, artificial narrow intelligence or ANI gives the software a limited range of abilities. Typically, it’s goal-orientated and performs specific tasks. You come across this type of technology every day, such as when you use the internet. Other examples include facial recognition on your phone or asking for help from a voice assistant like Siri.

Rather than mimicking human behaviour, narrow AI simulates human behaviour according to a limited number of parameters. Contrarily, artificial general intelligence (AGL), also known as deep AI, doesn’t have these restrictions.

AGL programs a computer to replicate human behaviour. It collects the relevant data and applies it to solve problems. This type of AI development looks at the ability of the software to differentiate between emotions, needs, and beliefs of another living entity. However, scientists are still researching this level of AI and haven’t managed to achieve it yet.

Finally, there’s artificial superintelligence or ASI. Currently, we haven’t managed to achieve this level, and so, it remains hypothetical. Sci-fi movies often display this type of AI, where robots are usually depicted as sentient, malevolent entities.

The idea behind ASI is to create computers that can become self-aware. What’s more, these systems would be far superior to the human brain, able to solve problems that we’d struggle to fathom. Luckily, we’re still far from achieving this level of AI development, so there’s no need to worry just yet.

What Kind of Skills Are Required to Become an AI Developer?

Artificial Intelligence has become increasingly popular over the last decade. While it offers plenty of exciting avenues to explore, it also requires a particular set of skills. AI development is highly scientific and, therefore, relies heavily on mathematics and science. 

Most professionals in the industry showcase the following characteristics:

  • Critical Thinking: You never take anything at face value, and believe that you need to experiment before coming to a conclusion.
  • Naturally Curious: You desire to know more, searching for answers by trying out new ideas and listening to different perspectives.
  • Not Easily Overwhelmed: Rather than getting frustrated, you savour the opportunity to solve a problem.
  • Mathematics and/or Science Buff: You enjoy mathematics and science.
  • Bookworm: To develop your understanding of a subject, you spend many hours reading and researching books and case studies.

If you believe you possess these skills, then a career in AI development is for you. However, becoming a professional in this field is no easy task, so you’ll need to prepare for a long road ahead.

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What Do You Need to Study to Become an AI Developer?

Now that you have a basic understanding of what AI development entails, it’s time to start your career. Like any stem field, the first step towards working in the artificial intelligence industry is acquiring an appropriate degree.

While there are ways to work in AI without a degree, tertiary education is always more beneficial. Enroll yourself for a bachelor’s degree in subjects such as:

  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Statistics
  • Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Economics

You’ll also need to understand various aspects of AI like programming languages, deep learning, neural networks and natural language processing. Each one of these topics will help you comprehend and implement the different facets of AI development.

If you prefer the non-degree route, then you’ll need to buckle in for a lot of self-studying. For starters, you’ll have to teach yourself how to write code in specific programming languages. Many experts believe Python is the best language to learn if you plan on branching into AI development.

The next step involves signing up for an online curriculum that teaches artificial intelligence. You can find a few basic courses for free, but the more comprehensive ones require a small fee. If you’re not sure where to start, try out Udemy or Lynda.  They have many informative and exciting courses available for future and current AI developers.

How Much Can an AI Developer Make?

The salary for professionals in the AI industry varies depending on their specific job, level of experience and education. It also depends on whether you plan to work at a company or start your own.

Whether you plan to offer your services to an experiential marketing agency in the US, a tech giant in China, or a research facility in Canada, the sky’s the limit. On the other hand, working for a company in the United Kingdom also has its perks.

On average, AI developers make $125,200 annually in the United States. Again this amount depends on your role. For example, a software engineer can expect a salary of around $99,000 a year, compared to a CTO receiving $163,000 annually.

The Bottom Line

Pursuing a career in the AI development field is no small task and requires passion and commitment. You’ll need to start by educating yourself in the subject and becoming proficient in its different categories.  After that, you can find your niche and become a specialist in one of the various categories of artificial intelligence.

So, are you on your way to becoming an AI developer?