Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning: Differences, Uses & More

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are the ultimate game changers in modern personal and professional lives. The adoption of AI and ML has reshaped many industries and continues to do so in innovative ways. They're no longer in research labs but are now in real-life applications. Siri and Alexa, autonomous cars, facial recognition in security systems, and social media are just a few current applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

While many people think that AI and machine learning are similar, beneath these technical terms are essential distinctions in their definitions, approaches, and applications. 

As they grow in prominence and popularity, it's essential to understand where AI and ML overlap and how they differ. This article pits AI vs. machine learning, covering their history, evolution, and differences. We’ll also glimpse their groundbreaking applications in various sectors and what to expect from these dynamic tools in the future. 


What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is a technology set that enables computers and machines to perform cognitive functions generally associated with human intelligence. It provides computers with visual perception, decision-making, language translation, and pattern recognition abilities. However, the abilities don’t stop there. In many ways, we are still discovering where AI can go from here and it’s useful — and fascinating — to track the journey since its inception.

AI wasn’t widely used by some people until ChatGPT (which has more than 180 million users) created the buzz around it. But it has been around for years. In 1950, before AI had a name, Alan Turing, a British mathematician and scientist, had apublication that questioned whether machines would mimic human conversations.

A few years later, John McCarthy, later known as the father of artificial intelligence, coined the term. The computer scientist created LISP, a programming language still used in robotics and other scientific applications. 

AI has come a long way since then. Unlike in the past, when artificial intelligence operated from a central point and relied on explicit programming, modern AI has increasingly become distributed with machine learning at its core. Machine learning, which we’ll discuss in further detail shortly, has given AI systems the human-like ability to learn from experience and examples to solve complex problems and make intelligent predictions.

AI tools are present in our current day-to-day in many ways. AI has enhanced social media marketing strategies by targeting and matching specific audiences with relevant brands. The transportation sector also utilizes AI in ridesharing apps. Other major industries that AI has transformed include healthcare, finance, and education.

The ultimate goal of AI is to create autonomous systems that can perform cognitive skills like humans, including problem-solving, learning, perceiving, reasoning, and more.


What is Machine Learning?

People often misuse the terms machine learning and artificial intelligence interchangeably. However, machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that focuses on algorithms and data to support AI and make computers intelligent by identifying patterns without human involvement. 

ML replaces humans by training systems to detect complex patterns and make predictions based on statistical data analysis. Machine learning simplifies a computer system without needing humans to program it. As it is exposed to more data, the algorithms obtain more examples to interpret patterns and relationships during the learning process. 

However, machine learning doesn't work independently; human programmers help prepare it for training machine learning models. This involves data cleaning, feature engineering, and normalizing data types.

Possibly one of the most trendy uses of machine learning today is developing self-driving cars. ML has enabled self-driving cars to learn to drive by analyzing large amounts of example footage from vehicle cameras and sensors, which help them recognize objects and predict behaviors. 

Machine learning has also made facial recognition systems automatically identify people from photos and videos. That's how your phone can recognize your face. These abilities are in smartphones, security cameras, and hospitals.

ML algorithms have also helped curb the cybersecurity menace. They analyze network traffic patterns to identify irregular or anomalous behavior indicative of attacks. 

Machine learning keeps your money in the bank safe from fraudsters. It detects fraudulent transactions and accounts by looking for characteristic patterns. This helps financial institutions and online retailers reduce payment losses, identity fraud, and money laundering schemes.

You can thank ML for keeping your email clean and free from spammy messages. Machine learning teaches computers by showing them lots of sample emails labeled as spam or not. Then your computer looks for patterns — like certain words that usually mean spam or senders from addresses it has not seen before and filters them. When you experience Google identifying and autocorrecting words that you incorrectly entered during a search, machine learning is fueling that to provide a more accurate search. 

ML and AI work together in myriad ways, but critical, distinctive differences distinguish the two.


What is the Difference Between Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence?

While it is a subfield within the broad domain of artificial intelligence, machine learning is not the same as AI. It's a part of AI, just like robotics, deep learning, and natural language processing.

Here’s an illustration that aptly compares AI vs. ML. While artificial intelligence refers to the overarching goal of building systems that can think and act intelligently like humans, machine learning is akin to how children experience new things, with their brains constantly learning and making connections between concepts. 

Thus, artificial intelligence encompasses the process of continual learning and development — where systems become more intelligent and capable of understanding complex ideas and solving problems over time. Machine learning, on the other hand, helps computers enhance their performance and learn through “experiences.” It helps to achieve artificial intelligence without requiring explicit programming. 

While ML excels at detecting patterns in data, artificial intelligence research explores combining ML with other techniques to achieve more general human-level intelligence. AI researchers aim to program systems with rules and structured knowledge for flexible rational deductions and inferences. This allows reasoning about concepts that may not be present in training data, allowing human-defined abstract thought beyond machine learning. 

Comparing artificial intelligence vs. machine learningin highly specific areas is material to fully present their differences.


AI aims to design machines and programs that can exhibit intelligence through human-like traits such as reasoning, learning, planning, and problem-solving. However, the goal of ML is narrower — to develop systems that can learn from large datasets and continuously improve their abilities through experience. ML aims to perform accurately and quickly without relying solely on direct human programming.


ML is centered around example-based statistical pattern recognition through exposure to data. In contrast, AI incorporates ML and other applications, such as robotics and natural language processing, which allow platforms like ChatGPT to operate. 

Data Usage 

A key difference between AI and machine learning is data usage. For machine learning, data is its lifeblood as ML algorithms work by finding patterns in large amounts of example data. However, AI may or may not need data to learn. It also learns from processes and programming.


Another difference between AI and ML lies in their methods. Machine learning relies on data to teach computers, and the computers follow the patterns in the data. However, artificial intelligence can use many techniques to solve problems, not just by learning from examples. Programmers can make rules for computers to follow and use logic. 


Machine learning focuses on implementing algorithms that can learn from large amounts of data without programming. The data is used to train models through statistical techniques. Conversely, AI utilizes machine learning and logic, search, symbols, and robots in its implementations to achieve intelligent behaviors.

Contrasting artificial intelligence vs machine learning on these fronts helps clarify misconceptions about the relationship between these two related domains.


So, Is AI Machine Learning?

The answer is no; AI is not machine learning. As computer scientist, Arthur Samuel, stated in 1959, machine learning enables computers to learn without explicit programming. AI relies on machine learning to accomplish its goals. 

Regarding scope, AI is like a big circle, and machine learning is a smaller circle inside the big circle. AI is a broad concept that creates human-level intelligence in machines.

On the other hand, machine learning is a specific type of AI that uses data and algorithms to improve automatically through experience. While AI is multifaceted in its approaches, ML relies on patterns from data to solve problems.

Again, ML aims to perform tasks by detecting patterns in data and making predictions. AI aims to exhibit general human-level intelligence through techniques like reasoning, planning, problem-solving, and natural language understanding.

Lastly, machine learning relies on significant data to solve problems, while AI systems also utilize non-data-driven techniques, which is a big difference between machine learning and AI. 


Artificial Intelligence vs. Machine Learning: Applications

AI and machine learning have come a long way. Simple applications of AI and ML have transitioned into unprecedented uses that continue to pique scientific curiosity. Automated decision-making, optimized operations, and personalized experiences are now seen utilized across all major industries.

Businesses can handle information overload, diverging viewpoints, and misuse of constrained options. The following industries have benefited greatly from utilizing AI and ML in their operations.

    • Healthcare: AI and ML have contributed to improved medical imaging analysis, drug discovery, disease prediction, and precision medicine. AI also enhances compliance through automation and continuous monitoring to avoid costly errors associated with regulatory oversight in healthcare.
    • Banking and financial services: ML algorithms analyze transaction patterns to detect and prevent fraudulent activity in real-time. Additionally, AI analyzes customers' transaction histories and payment behaviors over time to reassess their credit risk level and detect any changes.
  • Retail and ecommerce: ML recommends additional items to customers by analyzing user behavior and product attributes to drive more sales. AI helps predict sales volumes and inventory needs by recognizing patterns in historical data factors like seasonality and trends.
  • Communication: AI aids language understanding, textual conversion, and speech synthesis using natural language processing. Such techniques underlie applications like chatbots, virtual assistants, and automated customer care.
  • Automotive: Self-driving cars operate thanks to advanced AI algorithms that analyze sensor data to enable navigation, object detection, and collision avoidance. The algorithms efficiently coordinate vehicular movement, reduce accidents, and enhance road safety.
  • Education: By personalizing content and curricula per individual learner's unique requirements, artificial intelligence cultivates student engagement while maximizing academic results. AI-powered tutoring systems provide customized support and feedback, enhancing the educational journey for students. 


The Future of AI and Machine Learning

As ML algorithms continue to train on exponentially growing amounts of data, their abilities will advance rapidly. As machines learn more, they gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. This enriched knowledge helps AI systems handle more complex tasks.

Machine learning will power self-learning machines that improve over time. This will potentially help AI find cures for diseases and help scientists make discoveries faster than ever before.

The future of space exploration is also bright with AI and ML. Machine learning algorithms will accelerate observation analyses to uncover new insights into planetary evolution, exotic matter, ancient astronomy, and more. Specifically, the algorithms will help detect patterns and anomalies in astronomical data that can facilitate the identification and classification of exotic exoplanets.

AI and ML systems will become more interconnected and better at figuring things out for themselves. Like a domino effect, the improving relationship will lead to AI assisting people more through personalized recommendations, diagnostics help, automated processes, and other intelligent applications.

Consequently, projections for the worldwide artificial intelligence sector indicate tremendous growth over the coming years. Specifically, estimates forecast that the total AI market valuewill reach $1.85 trillion by 2030.

Industries like healthcare and finance, with access to vast volumes of customer and operational data, have found the most use cases for AI/ML to automate processes. Industry forecasts indicate that by 2025, 90% of hospitals will incorporate AI-powered technological solutions for early disease diagnosis and remote patient monitoring. 

Interestingly, AI and ML will also contribute to environmental sustainabilityby simulating climate patterns, predicting natural disasters, and helping create mitigation strategies through complex data modeling. 


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Artificial intelligence and machine learning are advancing fast and pushing the tech world further every day. With a bright future ahead in AI and ML, understanding how these two work puts you at a significant advantage.

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