Artificial intelligence is gaining interest and ground, with major players investing heavily in areas as disparate as drone footage analysis, app development platforms and personal digital assistants. Google is investing in the educational side of AI, as well. The tech giant recently announced a free 15-hour machine learning training course, aimed at users of all experience levels (though knowledge of introductory algebra and some proficiency in programming basics and Python will come in handy).
Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) is designed to help users develop skills in artificial intelligence and machine learning through free lessons, tutorials and hands-on exercises, the company announced.
"We believe that the potential of machine learning is so vast that every technical person should learn machine learning fundamentals," wrote Barry Rosenberg, with the Google Engineering Education Team, on the Google Developers blog.
The announcement ties into Google's wider efforts to be an AI influencer, and to enable users to get from start to finish on AI and machine learning initiatives via Google offerings. Now that through-line can also include machine learning training.
More than just a tech buzzword, AI and machine learning are increasingly valuable to a variety of industries, including shipping, finance, food services and entertainment.
But skills development in machine learning and AI isn't growing to match interest and application. Last year, a Gartner survey showed that AI interest was strong, but that employers were holding off on developments in the sector because of a lack staffers qualified to implement them.
The Google machine learning training crash course aims to close that gap, both within the company and outside of it.
"We believe that immersive technology with the use of AI is the near future of movies and entertainment," said Sabya Clarke, who with her mother, Daphne Mallory, plans to complete the Google crash course.
Clarke and Mallory are virtual reality producers working on a cinematic project that will incorporate AI, and believe the Google machine learning training course will be valuable in terms of both the technical aspect and the applications for the development of emotional intelligence for AI.
"We love that there are actual lectures included, which seems priceless to us," said Clarke. "And we're excited to explore the real-world case studies."
What's Included in the Machine Learning Training Course
The Learn with Google AI resource center uses a variety of teaching methods to cover topics including Google's open-source machine learning software TensorFlow, as well as cloud machine learning engine documentation and machine learning on Google Cloud Platform.
MLCC itself began as an internal tool intended as a two-day boot camp to expose engineers to machine learning, and more than 18,000 Google employees have enrolled in the course. There are plans to continue adding courses, said Google, which plans to eventually build a hub for education in machine learning and AI.
"AI can solve complex problems and has the potential to transform entire industries, which means it's crucial that AI reflect a diverse range of human perspectives and needs," wrote Google machine learning lead Zuri Kemp in a blog post published Feb. 28. "That’s why part of Google AI’s mission is to help anyone interested in machine learning succeed."
The 25-lesson crash course is available online in English, French, Mandarin, Korean and Spanish. The company's broader Learn with Google AI resource, is also meant to increasing diversity in AI and machine learning tech and making its developments available across broad segments of society, Kemp wrote.
The crash course specifically covers machine learning with TensorFlow APIs, and takes 15 hours to complete through video lectures from Google researchers, case studies and more than 40 practice exercises.