5 Best Free AI Courses for Beginners

Previously, we’ve covered nine of the best AI courses for finance leaders in 2024. But today, we’re turning our attention to free AI courses for beginners. These courses are perfect for those with little to no AI background but are eager to learn more.

These courses also aren’t necessarily tailored to finance. Instead, they provide a general overview of AI concepts and applications that anyone can apply, including finance professionals.

With its rapid advancement, more people than ever are eager to learn about AI and its potential impact on society. Fortunately, numerous free AI courses are available online, making it easier than ever for beginners to dive into the world of AI and unlock its potential.

Introduction to AI: Concepts and Applications

Before we get to these courses, let’s review said AI concepts and applications first.

AI encompasses many different technologies and techniques. Most simply, artificial intelligence is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines—computer systems in particular.

This includes: 

  • Learning (getting information and rules for using it)
  • Reasoning (using rules to come to approximate or definite conclusions)
  • Self-correction

AI Concepts

These are some of the critical concepts you’ll learn about in AI courses:

  1. Machine learning (ML) involves developing algorithms that let computers learn from and make data-backed predictions or decisions. It encompasses techniques such as supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement learning.
  2. Natural Language Processing, or NLP, enables computers to understand, interpret, and generate human language. It includes tasks like text classification, sentiment analysis, machine translation, and speech recognition.
  3. Expert systems are AI systems designed to mimic the decision-making prowess of a human expert in a specific domain. They use knowledge representations, inference engines, and rule-based reasoning to provide medical, finance, and engineering advice or solutions.
  4. Robotics involves designing, constructing, and operating robots that perform tasks autonomously or semi-autonomously. AI techniques help robots perceive their environment, plan actions, and make decisions.
  5. Computer vision lets computers interpret and understand visual information from the real world. It involves tasks that include image recognition, object detection, and image segmentation and finds applications in fields like autonomous vehicles, surveillance, and medical imaging.

Applications for AI

To highlight why virtually everyone can benefit from learning about AI, here are some applications of the key concepts discussed above:

  • In Healthcare: AI-powered medical diagnosis systems can assist physicians in making accurate and timely diagnoses while predicting potential health risks for patients. Expert systems can aid in disease diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
  • In Education: Educational apps powered by AI can personalize learning experiences for students based on their needs and progress. Adaptive tutoring systems use machine learning to provide customized lesson plans and student feedback.
  • In Transportation: AI plays a growing role in autonomous vehicles, route optimization, traffic management, predictive maintenance of vehicles and infrastructure, and logistics. It also enables the use of drones for delivery and surveillance purposes.
  • In Entertainment: AI is used in content creation, recommendation systems, and personalization of user experiences. For instance, social media platforms use machine learning to curate personalized feeds for their users based on their interests and behavior.
  • In Agriculture: AI can analyze data from sensors installed on farms to optimize irrigation, predict crop yields, and identify potential issues with crops. Agriculturalists can use robotics and drones for automated planting, harvesting, and monitoring of crops.
  • In Finance: AI-powered systems can assist in fraud detection, risk assessment, portfolio management, and personalized financial advice. Chatbots can also provide 24/7 customer service to clients. AI-powered FP&A chat tools like our FP&A Genius can generate business financial reports and forecasts.

How to Choose an AI Course

Finally, before we delve into the list of courses, let’s discuss what to look for when selecting an AI course. 

Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Beginner-friendly: Ensure the course is designed for individuals with little prior knowledge of AI, offering a gradual and accessible learning experience.
  2. Quality of instruction: Look for courses with well-structured, engaging, and easily understandable instructional materials, such as video lectures, interactive exercises, and comprehensive reading resources.
  3. Practical applications: Choose courses that emphasize real-world applications and provide opportunities to work on projects, allowing you to develop practical skills and see the tangible impact of AI.
  4. Flexibility: Consider the course duration and learning pace, ensuring it works with your schedule and learning style. Many free courses offer self-paced learning, enabling you to progress at your own speed.

Top 5 Free AI Courses for Beginners

Now, let’s explore the best free AI courses for beginners:

1) AI For Everyone by DeepLearning.AI (Coursera)

AI For Everyone is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to comprehensively understand AI and its applications. Offered by DeepLearning.AI on Coursera, this AI course is meant to be accessible to learners from all backgrounds—no prior technical knowledge required.

Key features:

  • Taught by AI pioneer Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera and former head of Google Brain and Baidu AI Group
  • Provides insights into AI fundamentals, including common terminology, realistic capabilities and limitations of AI, spotting opportunities for AI implementation, and building AI projects.
  • The course has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from participants, highlighting its effectiveness in delivering comprehensive insights into AI concepts.

Time to Complete:

  • 6 hours – 3 weeks of 2 hours per week.

2) Elements of AI by University of Helsinki and Reaktor

Elements of AI is a free online course created by the University of Helsinki and Reaktor, aiming to demystify AI and make it accessible to everyone. So far, their efforts aren’t in vain: over one million people have enrolled in this free AI course.  

Key features:

  • The courses are designed for everyone interested in AI, and no complicated math or programming skills are required.
  • Offers a user-friendly interface and engaging learning experience, with interactive elements and quizzes throughout the course
  • Highly flexible, allowing learners to progress at their own pace and complete the course on their own schedule
  • In addition to the individual courses, there’s also an offering called “Elements of AI for Business,” which helps organizations create a shared understanding of AI to identify AI-powered business opportunities.

Time to complete:

  • Doesn’t provide a timeline but there are 6 chapters of self paced learning.

3) Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text Mining Tutorial for Beginners (SkillUp by Simplilearn)

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Text Mining Tutorial for Beginners is a free course offered by Simplilearn as part of their SkillUp initiative. This course focuses on the fundamentals of natural language processing (NLP), a crucial subfield of AI that deals with the interaction between computers and human language.

Key features:

  • Covers essential NLP concepts, such as sentiment analysis, language models, and text classification.
  • Offers practical exercises and real-world case studies to reinforce learning and demonstrate the applications of NLP.
  • Includes a course completion certificate, recognizing your achievement and enhancing your professional profile.

Time to Complete:

  • 1 hour of self paced videos.

4) Introduction to Neural Network: Free Neural Networks Course to Unleash AI Potential

Introduction to Neural Network is another free course offered by Simplilearn. It covers the fundamental building blocks of AI: neural networks. This introductory AI course is ideal for beginners who want to understand how neural networks work and how to train them effectively.

Key features:

  • Covers the basics of neural networks, including what they are, how they work, their use cases, benefits and drawbacks 
  • Offers practical exercises and projects to reinforce learning and showcase the power of neural networks in solving real-world problems
  • Includes a course completion certificate, validating your newfound knowledge and skills

Time to complete:

  • 4 hours of self paced videos

5) AI for Beginners from Microsoft

Microsoft now offers a number of free AI courses, including AI for Beginners.

This course is designed for those with little to no technical background, providing a comprehensive introduction to AI and its applications.

Key features:

  • Covers the fundamentals of AI, including machine learning, data science, and ethics, as well as less popular artificial intelligence approaches like Genetic Algorithms
  • Provides hands-on experience with Microsoft Azure’s AI tools and services
  • Learn about TensorFlow and PyTorch, neural networks, deep learning, and their role in modern AI
  • AI for Beginners is also available offline through Docsify

Time to complete:

  • Different time line depending on the course.

Free AI Courses: FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you decide on the free AI courses you take and answer other queries you may have.

How do I start learning AI?

To start learning AI, explore free online courses like those in this article. These courses provide a fundamental foundation in AI concepts and practical applications, allowing you to understand the field comprehensively.

Can I learn AI for free?

Yes, numerous free AI courses are available online and offered by reputable institutions and platforms such as Coursera, Simplilearn, and Microsoft. 

Is AI difficult to learn?

Learning AI can be challenging, but with the right resources and dedication, it is achievable for beginners. The courses mentioned in this article are designed to be accessible and beginner-friendly, breaking down complex concepts into easily understandable modules.

Can I learn AI without coding?

While coding is essential for building AI applications, some courses provide a comprehensive understanding of AI concepts without requiring prior coding knowledge. However, learning programming languages such as Python is recommended to fully harness the power of AI.

Dive Into These Free AI Courses

Embarking on your AI learning journey has never been more accessible, thanks to the abundance of free courses available online. The only question is, which one will you complete first?

Did you enjoy learning about the best free AI courses?

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