Best programming languages for AI: which to learn?

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AI programming brings indescribable productivity and quality-of-life benefits to users everywhere. As smart speakers say good morning and search engines make headlines, these two techs are just a fraction of the massive AI universe working behind the scenes today.

For those considering a leap into the world of AI development, choosing the correct programming language to learn and use can be overwhelming. Let’s explore a few of the best AI programming languages and the impact they can have on your software products, as well as our society at large.

What is AI?

As many already know, AI stands for “artificial intelligence.” The original meaning of the word “artificial” in AI refers to the fact that AI is essentially an imitation of human thinking: intelligence exhibited by machines.

In simple terms, AI is a technology that uses programming techniques to gather and learn from massive amounts of information. In the case of smart speakers, “artificial intelligence” simply refers to the technology that goes into making voice recognition possible.

Robot inspecting smart speaker

As AI is still relatively new, it’s difficult to say how it will change our society or what impact it will have on the world. However, most experts agree that AI will have a huge impact on consumer products, economic data, and Internet security for generations to come.

The impact of AI on society

One of the biggest reasons to be personally interested in AI programming is its potential to change the world and our daily lives in several powerful ways. For example, smart speakers are one of the first iterations of AI revolutionizing home entertainment, autonomous transportation, and perhaps even everyday life. But just because many of these products and services are still working out the bugs doesn’t mean the AI revolution isn’t already on our doorstep.

Many of the biggest names in online commerce today use AI to keep people engaged. LinkedIn and other recruitment platforms use AI to help match qualified candidates to jobs based on previous successful job placements signals. Predictive search results on Google are also perfect examples of AI in action. It’s also the reason Pandora knows what music you’ll like, and Netflix knows what shows you’ll want to watch.

AI driving a car

Not all robots are “artificially intelligent”, but there’s a good chance that a warehouse robot powered by AI helped pick your last Amazon order. Self-driving cars brought the future of autonomous driving to consumers and are now even showing up at the mall. Self-driving buses are under testing, and research continues. This technology is another part of an AI revolution that will affect virtually every aspect of our lives.

And when you acquire the programming skills to create AI yourself, who knows, maybe the next big thing in technology will start at your fingertips.

Why choose one programming language over another?

Now, let’s get to the main point, and focus on which programming language to learn and use for artificial intelligence. Not all AI projects involve using just one particular language. For many AI concepts to come to life, so to speak, the software you need can be written in multiple different languages; however, the end result is still based on logic and rules that are hard-wired into a software system using logic and the software’s own language.

The best programming languages for AI development

Which programming language is most versatile? Which language can you pick up with ease? Which language has the most advanced features for AI-friendly applications? Let’s explore.

Python

Python has long been a preferred language for beginners and veterans alike. Often cited as a “problem-solving” language, Python can perform many types of computational operations with relative ease. This language’s simplicity allows users to focus on the critical aspects of problem-solving, and novices can dive in without worrying about being afraid of “not knowing” the library and syntax of the language.

For example, streaming behemoth Netflix relies heavily on Python for both basic tasks, such as system security, and AI enhancements such as alert analysis. In addition, payment processor Stripe uses Python to handle fraud detection and prevention.

As the foremost language for AI, Python is suitable for learning and data science and for just about any application imaginable. If Python is your first choice, check out our complete introduction to learning Python now.

Java

According to Statista, Java is currently the fifth most-used programming language among developers worldwide. It’s also one that most everyday computer users have heard of (who hasn’t gotten a “Java Update Available” notification at one time or another?). Given that there are already more than 20 AI libraries in Java that can be used in a variety of ways, it certainly deserves its place on this list.

Java has been used to build some of the most influential artificial intelligence technologies of the modern age, including the Google DeepMind computer and Amazon Alexa. Because Java works across many platforms, is scalable, and is backed by a reliable community of users, this programming language is a great choice for beginners, and really everyone.

robot discussing programming with hedgehog

C++

A general-purpose programming language that first appeared in the 1980s, C++ is one of the most prevalent high-level programming languages on the planet. The number of people working in the C++ ecosystem is massive, used for everything from video games to servers, telephone switches, and space probes.

Because of its extreme versatility, the C++ language is used to create a wide variety of packaged software such as games, business applications, and operating systems. For example, the newest Microsoft Office suite was developed using C++. It’s a powerful language that uses many concurrency-related features to reduce the overall number of bugs in your code, as well as other advantages. When it comes to AI, C++ has a plethora of libraries available for machine learning and neural networks that facilitate the faster execution of complex algorithms.

Users within the programming community often go back and forth on their predictions for the future of C++, but for the time being, it still ranks within the top three and remains utterly versatile and portable across device platforms such as Windows, Linux, and Mac.

Lisp

Lisp, a language designed for interacting with computers, has been around since the 1950s, making it the second-oldest high-level programming language in use today. Lisp pioneered numerous concepts in computer science, such as tree data structures, automatic storage management, and dynamic typing.

The fact is, Lisp-driven AI may already be a part of your everyday life. The native code for Roomba vacuum cleaners is written in a dialect of Lisp. Cloud-based writing assistant Grammarly calls on Lisp programs to make written content (including this blog post) more readable.

Lisp has undergone some fairly significant changes since its inception. It is designed to process digital symbols, which is perfect for writing software for the kinds of sophisticated robots and other hardware typically found in modern devices using AI.

Conclusion

Technological advancements continue to generate more exciting possibilities and users are turning to AI as a way to improve all aspects of human life. Artificial intelligence is outpacing the rate of development, and with that has come the widespread adoption of many consumer-level AI innovations. With a little research, you can choose the best programming language to deploy the best and most functional AI products for yourself.

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