I am Chloe McAteer and I have recently started working in the AI Practice in Kainos where I have the opportunity to work with cutting edge technology, developing production ready software for a range of different customers. 

Over the years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become part of everyday life for many people, whether they are using Siri to send a text or using a home device like Alexa to turn on the lights. 
 

AI is all around us, but have you ever tried to get started in it? Knowing where to start can be a little overwhelming as the topic itself is so vast. 
 

Where to start? 

Whether you are new to coding, a student or working full time, this blog will take you through some ways to kick off your AI journey! 
 
You will want to start to get a feel for what AI actually is and to understand the different sub-sections. I recommend checking out some of the blogs on Towards Data Science’s Medium page, they have so many amazing posts for everyone regardless of your knowledge. 
 
When getting started sometimes you can get a little lost reading loads of resources so I would also recommend attending technology and, in particular, AI meetups. Attending these meetups allows you to pick up extra tips from people who have experience in these different topics and also gives you the opportunity to ask questions and absorb more information, you can search for AI events on both meetup.com and Eventbrite. One AI meetup that I would frequently attend and would recommend is AINI, they always have a wide range of speakers and cover such fascinating topics. 
 
If there are no local meetups in your area, I would recommend checking out some of the different AI Channels on YouTube, which are great for providing examples with visual aids! Two very highly rated AI YouTube channels are The Artificial Intelligence Channel and Sirajology. 
 
In general, I also find a lot of benefit in following the right people on things like Twitter and Linked In as you will find them sharing useful resources and links to up-coming events! Some of the most influential AI people to follow can be found here. 

Want to actually develop AI solutions? 

If you are completely new to coding, I would recommend for you to start learning the basics of programming with Python. Python is heavily used when it comes to AI and is a very nice programming language to start with, as it is more intuitive and readable than others. Taking your time to get familiar with python would be super beneficial! 
 
Once you have gained some knowledge in python, but before you dive straight into working with different algorithms – It would be a good idea to get a feel for working with data and pre-processing/cleaning it. Data comes in many forms and most of it is messy. Spending time to really understand this is extremely useful, as it is typically the task that takes up the most time! There are a lot of resources for doing this, but one course that I have found particularly useful is the introduction to data science course on Udemy. 
 
Once you have more of an understanding of data cleaning you can then start to look into some more machine learning specific tutorials and for this I would check out the different tutorials offered on towards data science and on Udemy. 
 
So, now you have started to grasp the basics, you want to put this new knowledge to the test! You should check out Kaggle, they have a number of different challenges that you can take part in and offer a wide range of datasets that you can try and work with! 

What Kainos is doing to upskill people in AI? 

Kainos has recognised the value in having staff with AI skills and has invested in up-skilling employees and making sure they are equipped to make intelligent solutions for the future. In four of our office locations we run an after-work AI Club to give people from all areas within the business the opportunity to learn about what AI is and how to embed it into what we are developing. 

 

Kainos is also keen to bring forward new people into AI and for the past 3 years have been running an AI Camp during the summer for university undergraduates. The camp is a pretty intense two-week course, where the students are taken from programming basics in python onto implementing a range of different machine learning techniques. So if you are a student and interested in getting started in AI, be sure to look out for next year’s AI Camp. 

Conclusion: 

Use these tips above to help you get started and if you want to know more about AI also be sure the checkout AI Con, which is a conference in Belfast that is bringing together world-leading and local technology professionals to examine how AI is changing the world!