Understanding AI, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, and ChatGPT through a Simple Analogy

Jeya Chelliah B.Vsc Ph.D.

Imagine artificial intelligence (AI) as a large tree. This tree represents the broad field of AI, which encompasses any technique that enables computers to mimic human behavior.

Branch: Machine Learning

One of the major branches of this tree is machine learning (ML). ML is like a branch that grows out of the AI tree because it’s a subset of AI techniques that allow computers to learn from and make decisions based on data. You don’t need to explicitly program a machine learning model to perform specific tasks; instead, it learns from the data it processes.

Analogy: Think of ML as teaching a child how to sort fruits based on examples. You show them various fruits, and over time, they learn to differentiate an apple from an orange based on features like color, texture, and size without needing to be continuously guided.

Sub-branch: Deep Learning

Growing from the machine learning branch is a smaller, more specific branch called deep learning (DL). DL involves a particular set of machine learning techniques that use neural networks with many layers (hence “deep”). These are especially good at learning from large amounts of data and are responsible for many of the most impressive AI achievements in recent years, such as image and speech recognition.

Analogy: Deep learning is like teaching the child to sort not just fruits, but also to categorize them into more nuanced sub-categories like ripe, unripe, and overripe based on more subtle features. This task is more complex and requires a deeper understanding, much like a deep neural network processes more complex data inputs.

Leaf: ChatGPT

At the end of the deep learning branch, we find a leaf called ChatGPT. ChatGPT is a specific application of deep learning where a large neural network (specifically a type of model called a transformer) has been trained to understand and generate human-like text based on the patterns it has learned from a vast dataset of text.

Analogy: ChatGPT is like the child now using their understanding of fruits (and other items) to help run a fruit stand. They use their knowledge to answer questions about fruits, make recommendations, and even write signs or advertisements, based on what they’ve learned about how people talk about and interact with fruits.


In this analogy:

  • AI is the entire tree, representing the field of making machines intelligent.
  • Machine Learning is a branch of this tree, denoting systems that learn from data.
  • Deep Learning is a sub-branch that uses layered neural networks to learn from a large amount of data.
  • ChatGPT is a leaf, showcasing a specific application of deep learning aimed at understanding and generating human-like text.

This analogy helps to illustrate the hierarchical relationship between these concepts and how they build upon each other to enable increasingly sophisticated applications and functionalities in the world of artificial intelligence.

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