I’m learning about AI

Today I started taking the class in Artificial Intelligence that Stanford is offering online. It’s very cool and I immediately felt stupid, which is part of why the class is so cool. I expected it to be hard, but I didn’t think my incomprehension would begin immediately.

I love this. Frustrating, but I love it.

Online Introduction to Artificial Intelligence is based on Stanford CS221, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence. This class introduces students to the basics of Artificial Intelligence, which includes machine learning, probabilistic reasoning, robotics, and natural language processing.

The objective of this class is to teach you modern AI. You learn about the basic techniques and tricks of the trade, at the same level we teach our Stanford students. We also aspire to excite you about the field of AI. Whether you are a seasoned professional, a college student, or a curious high school student – everyone can participate.

This online class will make this material available to a worldwide audience. But rather than just watching lectures online, you will participate. You will do homework assignments, take exams, participate in discussions with other students, ask questions of the instructors, and also get a final score.

I’m taking it because, you know, I tend to write about AI a fair bit. I’m hoping this will give me a more grounded vocabulary when I’m working on SF stories. If nothing else, I’ll have the language to go look something up.

One of the things that’s nice about the way the course is presented is that I can pause the lecture and rewind it when I’m having trouble grasping something.   One of the things that it makes me really aware of is how much I have self-selected my activities over the course of my life so I only do things in areas that I have a degree of comfort. This uses math concepts that I haven’t touched since high school.

I’m looking forward to struggling through this over the next several weeks. It’s nice to make my brain work in a different area.


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16 thoughts on “I’m learning about AI”

  1. I’m one of the 160,000, too. Just that–huge–number would make the enterprise incredibly cool let alone the genrosity of setting it up and the fascinating content.

    I’m wondering how they evaluate the course’s success tho’. Even with the inevitable dropouts, there’ll be a heck of a lot of folk who might have feedback.

    1. The number is staggering. I also wonder about long-term impact of having that many people become conversational about AI. I don’t expect to have more than that happen, but it is very curious.

      I’m looking forward to them getting the forums set up.

      I also just found the supplementary material about probability theory and linear algebra and am going to work through them. I think that was some of what I was having trouble with yesterday.

  2. The first day of my Introduction to AI course in college, the professor said “This is Introduction to AI. Don’t let the title confuse you. This is rocket science.”

    I loved that course.

  3. “This uses math concepts that I haven’t touched since high school.”
    It pays to pay attention. I remember wondering why I needed to learn how to dot and cross vectors, but now that is a very important part of my job.
    At least with this course you are taking, I won’t have Mrs Petchel calling and telling me that my child isn’t doing her homework.
    Good luck.

  4. That’s awesome. As an aspiring writer who is still a college student, I’m finding I feel similarly about most of my classes. Getting a degree and teaching is my “B” plan, yet most of my classes as a History major are teaching me things about stories, characters, and the way both intertwine and move through history. What I’ve learned dramatically affected my worldbuilding and how I view stories in general. I hope your A.I. class is just as useful to you =).

      1. I agree, and that’s becoming ever more apparent as I continue my education. Thinking it would be easier, I originally started worldbuilding with a very loose historical element, allowing myself to extrapolate an alternate history from a relatively early point in human history. As I learn more, however, I’m finding I need a much firmer grasp on history to be able to accurately extrapolate from an earlier point in history which we know comparatively little about (as compared to something more recent). I’m learning a lot though and the challenge is proving to be its own reward =).

        British politics, eh? Book research?

  5. Wow, I remember taking CS221 back when Nils Nilsson taught it. Let me know if you want to talk AI sometime–I’d be curious about how the course has changed, and may also be able to help you with your homework. 😉

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