I have learnt mostly everything I know about Quantum Computing in the past 7 years. In fact, I’m going to make a little confession: I have never taken a formal course on Quantum Computing, I am almost completely self-taught 🙂 And if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it is that to learn hard subjects on your own you need to learn how to learn. I’m pretty obsessed with learning. It is one of the things that defines me.
So, as I embark upon a new learning task, I start to wonder if there is anything I can ‘learn’ (hehe) from my previous experience. To be clear about my goal: I would like to formally learn more about the field of Artificial Intelligence.
So I thought I’d write down a few things that might help and hinder me in this task, and to try and extract just how comparable the two learning experiences might be.
1.) I know a lot more about learning now. I am fairly good at knowing where to get information, how to mine resources and when to give up and go onto something simpler first if you’re just not getting anywhere. So this will all help.
2.) I probably have about the same amount of time to do the learning for AI as I had for QC, in both cases the subjects are tangential to what I am/was doing at the time. Not central, but related.
3.) I am generally more focused than I was 7 years ago! I also pretty much don’t drink alcohol anymore, and I’m probably in better health overall, which will help towards the goal. So this is all positive.
4.) However I *am* older – perhaps I am losing some of my brain plasticity!
5.) I think the core conceptual framework of QC is more tightly knit, whereas with AI it is a bit more sprawling, however to counter this I’d say that the mechanics/mathematics of QC is probably more involved. I may be wrong here of course!
6.) It is easier to ‘start’ with AI, I think there are simple programs, simulations and experiments that you can work on DIY style to learn a lot (I know that I learn quite well that way)
7.) There is a crossover between QC and AI – which makes the learning more interesting, as you can apply one area of expertise to another and see if you can come up with anything interesting along the way.
8.) I am now much better at networking, talking to people and conferencing – and you learn a LOT through these techniques. It is so important to learn what has already been done so you don’t end up spending several years re-inventing the proverbial wheel…
9.) Technologies are accelerating. I can utilise the latest developments to help me learn a new topic. 7 years ago I wasn’t using Wikipedia, ArXiv, Google Books etc, etc…. and I can now start to organise my thoughts more intuitively using wikis and mindmaps. I have an almost constant connection to the internet at all times now – so not only do I have a much greater access to learning resources, but I also feel in a much more information-aware mindset.
10.) Black Swans – of course something crazy might happen, like, say (lets be optimistic here) we suddenly find we’ve gone through the Singularity… then I won’t have to worry quite so much about the learning anymore…
What will happen? Will it work? 7 years?