Many people in tech wonder which direction to go into: should they do machine learning, should they learn about cyber security or stick to web development? Personally I decided on machine learning and in this post I’ll take apart my reasons for why – other than “It’s just interesting”, which honestly is what comes to mind most easily 😀
1. I’m a math lover at heart
Machine learning is the perfect undercover operation for a math-lover that wants to work in tech in my opinion. To perfect my undercover mission, I also completed a Masters degree in Computer Science. But in my heart, I will always be a math person.
Coding is only the tool to apply the theoretical concepts and many of those are similar to math. Of course, machine learning consists largely of statistics which isn’t exactly math, but you can find different amounts of linear algebra, optimization and other math subjects within the machine learning field.
2. Machine learning is challenging
While it’s easy to quickly copy-paste together a classification model that has been implemented in one of the popular packages like scikit-learn in Python, it is by far more complicated to really understand the way it works and why it works.
But I love finding out how things work and in machine learning there are many layers to every problem. You can peel them back one by one and once you think you got them all, the data provides challenges as well that might change the way the algorithm works. The way to make me happy is definitely to let me dig deep into a given area.
3. Machine Learning keeps evolving
Not only is it challenging, but every few years it gets applied to new areas or new algorithms are discovered that solve problems more efficiently. I personally find that interesting because I enjoy observing how research develops right as it happens.
It is a bit like reading a book series as it is published: you never know what exactly will happen next and you can even speculate how it will end. And you can’t do that if everything has already happened in the past.
4. It pays well and tends to have great benefits
Look, who are we kidding, I already told you I’m a math person at heart. But career-wise tech just worked better for me: more jobs available, relaxed work environment and often opportunities to work from home either some of the time or even work completely remote. That is definitely not the case for teaching math or other work at universities.
And since it’s a career, it would be very deceiving to not mention pay as a motivating factor. Most of us don’t go to work 40 hours a week because it’s so fun. It helps that I enjoy the general area of my job, but good pay always helps 😉
5. It enables me to understand the tech around me
After learning a bit about speech recognition, Siri on my phone got that much more impressive. When driving my car, I completely forgive my car for not recognizing that street sign. Understanding the general principles of machine learning gives me insights into so many tech products in my everyday life even up to my Netflix recommendations.
But it also makes me more cautious around many things. Knowing the weaknesses of computer vision makes me hesitant to give up complete control over my car. And knowing how algorithms and datasets have a bias because of the way they were trained makes me cautious in blindly believing their recommendations or decisions. These tech solutions are great tools, but it’s important to understand their limits and use additional methods to check their work or supplement it with more information from different sources.