Yes, I am Also Learning AI, Nice to Meet You

This is a warm and sunny winter day in Hangzhou, a large city in the southeast of China. About 5 months ago, the 2016 G20 Summit was held here. The city is also known as “heaven on earth” from an old Chinese saying, with “enchanting natural beauty and abundant cultural heritage”. The air quality is “unhealthy” today, makes it a bit difficult to enjoy the weather.

As a student of the second batch (Feb-cohort) of Udacity’s Artificial Intelligence Nanodegree, I am sitting in front of a 23-inch computer screen, trying to follow the link to the course’s Slack team. About 30 hours later, I will be attending one of the largest AI Engineer education programs on the planet.

Exciting, and scary, considering that I scratched the surface of artificial neural network some 14 years ago but was never trained as a programmer, or computer scientist, or anything like that. I have a PhD in Civil Engineering and worked in environmental consultanting for years, before I picked up machine learning as a hobby in March 2016.

The hobby soon turned out to be a serious pursuit. New computer — checked; new free courses — checked; new paid courses — checked, checked, and checked. I even went to a job interview! However, it was a failure. I was not prepared, not then. But what can stop me? As far as I know, just myself.

I decided to push myself harder. This nanodegree program is a perfect opportunity. In 6 months, I will learn the skills needed for an AI engineer and create projects with thousands of classmates across the globe, under the guidance from some of the Silicon Valley’s most talented experts in this field, including Sebastian Thrun, Peter Norvig, and Thad Starner. Well, IF I can catch up.

I will publish my progress, obstacles, and thoughts about this program every week. Now, let me get one more assignment done from my algorithms class :)