How Machine Learning is Related to AI?

Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is a broad field that aims to create intelligent machines that can think and learn like humans. The idea of AI has been around for a long time, with early examples dating back to ancient myths and stories of human-like artifacts coming to life. 

But modern AI really took off after World War 2, when computers became more advanced. Early AI researchers were trying to get computers to do things that seem easy for humans, like recognizing faces, understanding speech, or making decisions based on data.

While we’ve made incredible progress in AI over the decades, we still haven’t achieved human-level general intelligence in machines. Modern AI systems are very good at specific tasks, like playing chess or recognizing images, but they lack the flexibility and reasoning abilities of the human mind.

What is Machine Learning?

Machine learning is a powerful tool in the AI toolbox. It is a method of programming computers, including a modern GPU cloud server, to optimize performance and learn from data without being explicitly programmed. Rather than hand-coding software routines with specific instructions to accomplish a particular task, the machine is “trained” using large amounts of data and algorithms that allow it to learn how to draw insights for itself.

Types of Machine Learning

There are different types of machine learning, but the most common is called supervised learning. This involves feeding the machine training data that includes correct answers or desired outputs. For example, to train a system to recognize cats in images, you’d provide it with many examples of images that are labeled as containing cats or not containing cats. Over many iterations, the system can optimize its ability to classify new images by continually updating what it learns about the distinguishing features that identify a cat.

Other types include:

Unsupervised Learning: The algorithm tries to find patterns in unlabeled data by detecting similarities among inputs. This can be useful for clustering, anomaly detection, or uncovering hidden insights.

Reinforcement Learning: The algorithm learns through a system of rewards what actions to take to achieve the maximum benefit or desired outcome in a particular situation. Many robot control systems use reinforcement learning.

The Role of Machine Learning in AI

Machine learning is critical to modern AI because it allows systems to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed. Instead of having software rules manually encoded by human programmers, machine learning allows the AI to adapt and discover insights buried in data by using algorithms to build its own models.

Nearly every AI system you interact with today has machine learning driving it under the hood. When you talk to a virtual assistant and it recognizes your speech and understands your commands, that’s machine learning in action. When you get personalized product recommendations while shopping online, that’s machine learning too – analyzing your behaviors to predict what you’ll like.

Machine learning has made today’s AI smarter and more capable by allowing it to take in and learn from massive datasets in ways human programmers never could. Rather than being explicitly coded, machine learning trains AI models in a more human-like way by ingesting data and examples, detecting patterns, and using what it learns to make predictions or decisions without relying on hard-coded rules.

Applications of Machine Learning in AI

Some key examples of how machine learning enables modern AI include:

Computer Vision

Machine learning is what allows AI systems to visually recognize and identify objects, people, text, scenes, and activities in images and videos with a high degree of accuracy. Applications include self-driving cars, facial recognition, robotics, and more.

Natural Language Processing 

Machine learning models are trained on huge datasets of written and spoken text which allows AI to understand, interpret, and generate human language in useful ways like translations, transcriptions, answering questions, and following commands.

Predictive Analytics

By studying patterns in historical data, machine learning allows AI to make predictions about future events and behaviors. Everything from forecasting weather to recommending products is powered by machine learning’s pattern recognition capabilities.

Game Playing

Many of the AI systems that can now beat humans at complex games like Chess, Go, and Poker rely on machine learning techniques like neural networks to calculate extremely high numbers of possible moves and outcomes.

Limitations and Challenges

While machine learning has proven to be an immensely powerful tool, it is not without its limitations and challenges:

Data Quality

Machine learning is heavily dependent on the quality of data used to train it. If the training data is incomplete, biased, low-quality or not fully representative, the learned model may be inaccurate or make mistakes.


As machine learning models grow more advanced and complex, it becomes difficult to fully explain the reasoning and logic behind the decisions or outputs they produce. This “black box” problem raises transparency issues.

Lack of Generalization

Most machine learning today is “narrow” in the sense that it can only be applied to specific, constrained tasks it was trained on. Current AI does not have the general reasoning capabilities of human intelligence.

Privacy & Ethics

The massive data requirements of machine learning, and its applications in areas like surveillance, profiling, persuasion, and autonomous weapons, have surfaced many privacy and ethical questions that need to be addressed.

Limits of Current Techniques

While techniques like deep learning have achieved state-of-the-art results, they are data hungry, computationally intensive, and may be hitting theoretical limits in their ability to generalize. New machine learning approaches may be needed to make further progress.

The Future of Machine Learning and AI

Despite these issues, machine learning remains the driving force allowing artificial intelligence to steadily become more capable and pervasive in our daily lives. While we don’t yet have sentient, self-aware AI, machine learning keeps pushing the boundaries of what narrow AI can do by enabling systems to take in data, learn, and continuously improve their performance on specific tasks.

Looking ahead, machine learning will likely play a pivotal role as we work toward the long-term goal of artificial general intelligence (AGI) – AI with human-level reasoning, abstraction and general problem-solving abilities across different contexts. While we are still far away from achieving AGI, machine learning is paving the way by steadily enhancing AI’s ability to learn and adapt in increasingly complex ways.

Some potential future directions for machine learning and AI include:

Unsupervised Learning Breakthroughs

Most current machine learning is supervised, requiring labelled training data. Unsupervised techniques that can automatically learn from raw data could be transformative.

Hybrid AI Systems

Combining different machine learning approaches with knowledge bases, reasoning engines, and human-enabled learning may produce more general and capable AI. 

Efficient Deep Learning

New methods that require less laborious data labeling and less computing power could make deep learning more accessible and scalable.

Neuromorphic Computing

Computer architectures more closely modeled on the biological brain could enable new forms of dynamic, self-learning AI.


Regardless of the specific approaches, it’s clear that continued advancement in machine learning capabilities will be instrumental in pushing AI toward ever more human-like abilities in areas like reasoning, abstraction, context understanding and general problem-solving. While we may not achieve AGI anytime soon, machine learning is a critical component in getting us there.

How Machine Learning is Related to AI? was last updated April 9th, 2024 by Olga Buchatskaya