Career Guidance In Artificial Intelligence
Our Career Counselor gives you an insight into the world of artificial intelligence and how you can go about building a career in it
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
As humans, we like to think of ourselves as intelligent beings with the ability to acquire knowledge, apply it and adapt that knowledge to our particular experiences and situations.
Artificial intelligence is no different. However, instead of humans, it is the capability of a man-made device, such as a computer, robot or toy, to think in ways that humans do. Artificial intelligence is the science of making machines intelligent, in order to interpret or react to human intelligence or behaviour.
AI forms a vital branch of computer science. Research in AI is concerned with producing machines to automate tasks requiring intelligent behaviour. Examples include control, planning and scheduling, the ability to answer diagnostic and consumer questions, handwriting, speech, and facial recognition. As such, it has become an engineering discipline, focused on providing solutions to real life problems. AI systems are now in routine use in economics, medicine, engineering and the military, as well as being built into many common home computer software applications, traditional strategy games like computer chess and other video games. “The limitations of traditional logic based systems have increased the importance of AI-based, especially in business,” says Dr Kaustubh Chokshi, CEO, Intelligent Business Systems (IBS), a technology company providing business solutions that incorporate AI engines.
Uses of AI
Banks use artificial intelligence systems to organise operations, invest in stocks, and manage properties. A medical clinic can use artificial intelligence systems to organise bed schedules, make a staff rotation, and to provide medical information. Many practical applications are dependent on artificial neural networks — networks that pattern their organisation in mimicry of a brain’s neurons, which have been found to excel in pattern recognition. Financial institutions have long used such systems to detect charges or claims outside of the norm, flagging these for human investigation. Neural networks are also being widely deployed in homeland security, speech and text recognition, medical diagnosis, data mining, and e-mail spam filtering.
Robots have also become common in many industries. They are often given jobs that are considered dangerous to humans. Robots have also proven effective in jobs that are very repetitive, in which humans may find degrading. General Motors uses around 16,000 robots for tasks such as painting, welding, and assembly. Japan is the leader in using robots in the world. According to Encyclopedia Encarta, 2006 edition, in 1995, 700,000 robots were in use; over 500,000 were from Japan.
Computers and robots today still miss the power of human pattern recognition (which is the heart of human intelligence), but computers are improving in this area at a steady pace. Robots will continue to develop to fill many economic niches. According to Subir Kumar Saha, associate professor at the mechanical engineering department of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi (IITD), “In India, studies related to robot technology and its implications are conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The research and development thrust is carried out by DST, Department of Electronics and Department of Ocean Development and other similar organisations. The IITs too have taken the lead in designing programmes in robotics."
Entry in the field
To enter this field you need to study mechanical, electrical or computer engineering to begin with. In fact, a sound knowledge of all the three fields is an ideal prerequisite. Specialised courses ie, artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced robotics systems, intelligent control, image processing, neural networks and fuzzy logic are offered at the IITs, BITS-Pilani and other engineering colleges. Further specialisation can be done at the postgraduate level. The study of robotics will prepare you to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills to support engineers and other professionals engaged in the developing and using robots. It will include instruction in design, operational testing, system maintenance and repair. Robotics, however, is a long-term, research-oriented career. Someone stepping in to the field today would have to plan and work towards results he would probably achieve a few years later.
A specialisation in AI or robotics engineering will lead to potential career opportunities in manufacturing, research and engineering, agriculture, mining, nuclear power-plant maintenance and a variety of other areas. “If you consider a robot as a machine, which can perform numerous tasks, it could act as a catalyst for a change in our everyday life” says Saha.
Institutes (indicative only)
Colleges that offer courses in robotics:
Departments of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science at IIT- Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras and IISc
The Centre for Robotics and Mechatronics at IIT Kanpur runs master's programme in robotics
National Institutes of Technology
Jadavpur University, Kolkata (www.jadavpur.edu).
Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Kochi (www.cusat.ac.in)
Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Mumbai
Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani (www.bitspilani.ac.in),
University of Hyderabad
Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala
Osmania University, Hyderabad, University College of Engineering
MS University, Baroda
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher learning, Prasanthinilayam
Besides these, Mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and computer science departments at the IITs- Mumbai, Delhi, Kharagpur, Madras, IISc, Bangalore, as well as some of the NITs offer Robotics as part of their courses.
In addition, IBS has established an institute IBS Education Pvt Ltd, which will offer post-graduate degree/ diploma courses in Artificial Intelligence (long-term), and customised, short-term AI courses for software companies and IT departments of user companies.
IBS Education Pvt Ltd will tie up with universities in India as well as partner with private institutes to deploy its courses. Find out more on www.intelligentsystems.biz
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