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Artificial Intelligence Versus Machine Learning: What's the Difference?
Blog Feature
Mike Kaput

By: Mike Kaput

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October 20th, 2021

Artificial Intelligence Versus Machine Learning: What's the Difference?

What is the difference between artificial intelligence and machine learning?

Don't worry...

You don't need to be a rocket scientist to learn.

You just need a clear definition of artificial intelligence and machine learning, then a simple distinction between the two.

We've got you covered.

What is AI?

AI is computer science field that enables computer software to perform human-like intelligence tasks, like speech recognition, image recognition, reasoning, decision making, and learning.

AI learns through observation and interaction with the world. It learns, for example, by observing humans interact with objects and people, by observing the objects themselves, and by interacting with humans.

AI isn't magic; it's math. Very advanced math that can help machines perform well-defined intelligence tasks better than humans.

AI powers everything from self-driving cars to Amazon recommendations to image recognition that tags your friends on Facebook.

AI is an umbrella term. It encompasses many different subfields and technologies, including neural networks, natural language processing (NLP), natural language generation (NLG), and deep learning.

Machine learning is one of these subfields.

What is machine learning?

Machine learning is AI where the computer software is tasked with learning without being explicitly programmed.

An AI system that uses machine learning is not always explicitly programmed with the rules of how to learn.

Instead, it is allowed to learn through a combination of instruction from humans and experimentation on its own.

Over time, an AI system using machine learning can get better at the task it was built to do.

It can even find its own approaches to completing a task that humans never taught it or intended it to learn.

This is why there is so much excitement around AI that uses machine learning:

Unlike traditional software, which has to be manually updated by programmers, AI with machine learning can get smarter on its own. 

It can improve its performance on tasks over time, which unlocks powerful results for individuals and companies.

What is the difference between AI and machine learning?

Machine learning is always a type of AI, but AI is not always machine learning.

The difference lies in the ability of an AI system to get smarter on its own.

If AI can teach itself without explicit human training and get better over time, then it's true machine learning.

If it can't, then some may still call it artificial intelligence, but it's more like intelligent automation with a narrow application. It can still solve problems that require human intelligence.

What is AI but not machine learning?

A good example of something that is AI today, but often not machine learning is your average website chatbot.

These chatbots use AI technologies like NLP and NLG to converse with website visitors. But most of them don't get smarter on their own.

At the end of the day, what's important to know is this:

AI is an umbrella term for a field of computer science that works on software to perform human intelligence tasks.

Machine learning is a subfield of AI that teaches machines to learn on their own.

Not all AI is machine learning, but all machine learning is considered AI.

Both AI and machine learning can make your life simpler and your business better by automating and improving work done by humans.

About Mike Kaput

Mike Kaput is Chief Content Officer at Marketing AI Institute and a senior consultant at PR 20/20.

Disclosure: Marketing AI Institute writes about and recommends AI-powered marketing and sales technology. In all cases, content and recommendations are independent and objective. In some cases, Marketing AI Institute may have business relationships with companies mentioned, which may include financial compensation, affiliate compensation, or payment in kind for products or services. View a list of Institute partners here and MAICON sponsors here.