What Is AI Without Machine Learning?

Written by Adam Morris

Updated August 4, 2023
Man facing computer with code lines on screen

Artificial intelligence has made important technological advances in recent years. But what is AI without machine learning (ML)?

AI has become a permanent feature in our lives, and the utilization of machine learning (ML) to make more advanced Artificial Intelligences is rapidly becoming widespread. Machine Learning enables us to develop sophisticated programs that can study data and generate crucial insights, empowering businesses with the knowledge they need to make smarter decisions.

It is important to understand how AI and ML are related – and how ML gives artificial intelligence its power. This article examines the distinctions between Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, in addition to highlighting how Machine Learning is fundamental for designing successful AI applications.

AI vs Machine Learning vs Deep Learning vs Neural Networks

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer algorithms to enable machines to “learn” and make decisions without explicit instructions. Computer science continues to progress and develop, now allowing machines the capability to self-access, extrapolate, and interpret countless amounts of data from a broad array of sources. AI technology has a wide range of applications, from facial recognition systems to virtual personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.

AI robot with hands on chin on white background

Machine learning (ML), on the other hand, is a subcategory under AI wherein machines are not programmed explicitly with instructions but rather learn from examples through pattern recognition techniques. ML leverages input-output data points learned by computers so they can recognize patterns and predict more accurately in given sets of data.

As opposed to artificial general intelligence, which studies general intelligence built around human cognition, Machine learning models focus on specific problems like natural language processing or reinforcement learning which it can produce tangible results over time.

In this way, ML can be seen as an extension of artificial intelligence that turns complex datasets into actionable insights much faster than previously possible.

Deep learning is a subset of machine learning which uses special algorithms to set new records in accuracy for important tasks, such as image recognition and speech recognition. The capabilities of deep learning are astonishingly demonstrated by DeepMind’s AlphaGo algorithm, as it defeated the world champion at Go in both 2016 and 2017.

Man talking to AI robot with bubble head on top

Neural networks are referred to as ‘deep’ based on the depth of their hidden layers. Shallow networks have only a single layer, whereas deeper ones possess multiple levels of complexity. These multiple layers are necessary in order to accurately interpret complex data with greater precision and accuracy. While deep learning algorithms may involve complex mathematics and computing abilities, these powerful tools are indispensable when it comes to achieving superior performance on an array of tasks.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, they actually refer to distinct lifeforms of artificial intelligence. AI is the broadest term of the four; it includes any computer system that can gather data and use it to solve problems independently. Machine learning is a subset of AI focused on data-driven algorithms that improve over time.

Deep learning relies more heavily on self-learning algorithms based on artificial neural networks, with many layers of nodes called neurons that extract and transfer knowledge. Finally, neural networks themselves are a class of algorithms that use multiple layers of neurons to process raw inputs and output complex decisions.

AI vs Data Science

Data science draws upon principles from computer science, statistics, operations research, and mathematics to analyze data and understand patterns in order to make predictive models and generate insights.

Though substantially different in scope, there is considerable overlap between AI and DS—methods like machine learning and decision optimization can be used in both disciplines. As AI has seen an upsurge due to increased computing power and intricate algorithms, more experts use these terms interchangeably; it is nevertheless essential to distinguish between them.

Are AI And Machine Learning The Same?

AI (Artificial Intelligence) and machine learning sound similar, yet they are actually two distinct kinds of technology with different goals. While some use cases may be overlapping, the difference between them is quite evident. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an expansive and encompassing term representing all sorts of innovative technologies and strategies.

Hand holding tablet in front of robotic arm

Artificial Intelligence is capable of performing a magnitude of functions, ranging from natural language processing to robotic process optimization and beyond. Additionally, AI can accurately recognize images as well as make prudent decisions and solve complex problems.

Machine learning then falls under the umbrella of AI as a subset or type of algorithm which uses data models to autonomously learn from data sources for predictive purposes.

Unlike classic programming methods where an individual author writes code with predetermined output given certain inputs, machine learning works autonomously using computer algorithms to allow the system itself to improve its performance over time without relying on external preprogrammed rulesets.

As new data is presented to it, machine learning continuously refines these models so they can more effectively map between inputs (data provided) and outputs (outcome produced). This makes it ideal for larger datasets that require high-accuracy predictions but have highly complex functions which are difficult to define with traditional programming approaches.

What Is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence is a helpful innovation that has been used across numerous sectors, ranging from healthcare and finance to engineering and natural language comprehension. AI’s extraordinary abilities have revolutionized the way businesses operate in many ways, providing invaluable insights into complex processes while optimizing efficiency.

Vector illustration of people feeding AI with data

AI technology covers areas such as natural language processing, image recognition, robotics, machine learning algorithms; it also includes automated planning & scheduling as well as decision-making or problem-solving subfields like games & puzzles. As AI advances and its applications become wider it will enable robots and autonomous systems take better decisions which would significantly reduce costs for many activities that currently require manual labor or human oversight.

Three Types of AI

AI has been commonly divided into three broad categories: applied AI, general AI, and weak/narrow AI.


Weak AI is a specific type of artificial intelligence that tends to excel at one particular activity but fails when compared to human experts in other tasks. It is different from strong AI, which strives to emulate full human cognition and autonomy. An example of AI with this type is the computer program Deep Blue, created by IBM.

AI hand holding to move chess piece on top of board

In 1996 it shocked the world by soundly beating the reigning world champion Garry Kasparov in chess. This was an incredible feat, one that left many skeptical that a machine could outsmart humans in this area.

General AI

General AI or strong AI refers to something that exceeds the capabilities of computers today. Chatbots and virtual assistants are already quite advanced, capable of carrying out conversations by engaging in dialogues with users. Such interfaces can respond appropriately depending on the context given by the user’s response.

Again this technology isn’t fully self-sufficient, but rather relying on algorithms that have been coded with certain parameters in order to interact with the user based on their interaction.

General AI pushes this further so that machines are able to reach decisions without explicit instructions being provided by a person or set of rules set by programmers on what they should do in different scenarios. This kind of intelligent behavior would be a remarkable achievement but still requires research and development into how it can be implemented into self-learning computer programs.


The idea of superintelligence is fascinating, but it appears far from the capabilities of machines matching up to humans. Machines have accomplished activities that surpass human limits, such as rapidly dealing with intricate equations. However, features like AI with actual interpersonal skills or independent emotion mimicking Bicentennial Man are perceived as a far-reaching goal. Currently, robots utilize basic processes and calculations, yet they cannot advance further than that.

What Is Machine Learning?

Machine learning uses artificial intelligence algorithms to allow computers to learn from data and experiences. By leveraging machine learning, we can build computer systems that learn without being explicitly programmed. It’s the process of using mathematical models of data to help a computer system learn autonomously, rather than rely on instructions given by their human operator. It essentially allows computers to make decisions based on the data they’re given, without explicitly being coded how to do so.

People walking on street in AI image recognition

In its simplest form, machine learning requires the input of historical data – usually in the form of large datasets – in order to inform the AI’s decision-making capabilities. This could be used in predictive analytics, for example: when inputted with past weather data, a machine learning algorithm may eventually be able to accurately predict upcoming weather patterns.

Moreover, the system’s accuracy gets better and better as new data is added to it over time – without requiring any additional human input.Ultimately this form of AI self-learning lends itself greatly to automation and has huge potential for applications both inside and outside of tech industries.

Supervised Learning

Supervised learning is a form of machine learning that creates an algorithm which can be utilized to anticipate and forecast circumstances in the future.

It uses labeled datasets, or data that has already been classified and baselines established, which help the system better understand what it needs to look for when presented with new input in order to train and improve over time.

This enables a supervised learning model to have more control over what it produces as far as output goes, and also helps limit potential bias or other issues due to an incomplete dataset.

Unsupervised Learning

Unsupervised learning has grown in prominence during the era of big data. This learning method can be used to identify patterns and extract meaning without being given specific instructions, making it more adaptive and scalable than traditional supervised models. Utilizing unsupervised learning algorithms, datasets can be intuitively studied and useful information extracted with minimal manual effort.

Thanks to large data sets, unsupervised algorithms can now be implemented with greater speed. Unlike supervised machine learning approaches, where the desired outputs are predetermined, training an unsupervised model is much less time-consuming and resource intensive.

Data scientists are able to process vast datasets quickly thanks to the scalability of unsupervised learning procedures. Unsupervised techniques are also quite efficient at recognizing anomalies that do not necessarily follow an established pattern yet have important implications when recognized correctly.

Reinforcement Learning

Reinforcement learning is a cutting-edge area of machine learning that enables computers to learn from their environment by interacting with it. This type of algorithm uses trial and error search and rewards delayed outcomes in order to identify the appropriate action.

This allows machines and software agents to automatically determine which behavior should be implemented according to the given context and optimize their performance accordingly.

Hand typing on laptop with Chat GPT logo

Feedback in the form of a reinforcement signal is vital for providing guidance as to what behavior yields beneficial results or not. The rewards act as feedback mechanisms which help teach the agent how effective its actions were, enabling it to learn how to modify its decision-making process in order to maximize rewards in future scenarios.

AI is Machine Learning, Right?

AI and machine learning are closely connected, with one described as the process of how systems achieve intelligence and the other deriving from this same process. AI takes form in the form of a computer system’s ability to think like a human and perform tasks on its own.

Machine learning is the set of algorithms designed to help a computer system become “intelligent”, where it alters its behavior based on sets of data. In order to properly learn AI, deep learning algorithms are used which mimic neural networks that exist in the human brain.

AI and Machine Learning are technologies that can be utilized in tandem to produce outcomes. Deep learning practices are necessary for successful outcomes when it comes to training computers, thus making them just as important as AI when tried together towards accomplishing a given task or problem. While these terms might appear to be conflicting at first glance, they really aren’t so different at all— they are merely working together in order to obtain meaningful results.

AI and Machine Learning Together

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are two innovative technologies that, when combined, create remarkable capabilities. Through their seamless collaboration, they offer a multitude of beneficial applications.

AI involves making machines that act like humans, while machine learning is focused on providing a computer the ability to learn without being programmed specifically.

AI utilizes algorithms that observe data and recognize patterns in order to draw conclusions. Machine learning works by feeding information into a computer system so it can learn as more actionable data is collected. Together, AI and machine learning make systems that can take on complex tasks such as detecting facial expressions or driving cars autonomously.

3D rendering of AI woman on futuristic background

AI use machine learning algorithm to build intelligent machines with automated decision-making capabilities. They feed in large amounts of training data from various sources, which the algorithm then uses to find patterns, make predictions, classify objects, or detect anomalies. Through these processes, the algorithms generate insights that AI applications can use directly or apply further refinement.

For example, an AI application may employ supervised machine learning methods for pattern recognition within photo images whereas unsupervised learning techniques might be used for natural language processing tasks such as sentiment analysis in text documents.

Is Machine Learning Necessary For AI?

AI involves a broad range of capabilities that permit machines to make smart decisions, while ML is the technology used to bring those abilities into fruition. The process involves neural networks in order to create code which is capable of adapting to new data without being manually changed, resulting in much more efficient models.

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This makes ML an ideal tool for many organizations who seek to employ AI solutions. Though ambitious planer may be looking farther ahead and into other solutions, ML remains positioned as the primary avenue forward when aiming for maximum output through using AI technologies. With the growing popularity of both these fields, it’s clear that there is no path towards this higher level of technology without harnessing the power of Machine Learning first.


What is real-world example of AI?

A real-world example of AI is self driving cars. Leveraging cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence algorithms, driverless cars can efficiently traverse roads, detect obstacles, and make informed decisions as they move from point A to B. This makes them much safer than human drivers.

What is an example of AI but not ML?

AI and ML are two distinct technologies which combine to simulate human intelligence. Artificial Intelligence is a broad term for computer systems that can mimic the cognitive functions of humans, while Machine Learning employs advanced algorithms to create sophisticated models from raw data so computers become more accurate when presented with new information over time. An example of AI but not ML would be neural networks. Through utilizing the same strategies as biological brains, a neural network is an artificial intelligence system capable of tackling intricate undertakings such as object identification, language interpretation and robotics. Neural networks process information in more natural ways than ML algorithms, making them useful for tasks that involve recognizing patterns and relationships in composites of data.

Adam is a crypto expert & AI enthusiast who has been researching and writing on the topics since 2017.

He’s spoken on numerous podcasts and has been featured in many prominent media publications such as Forbes, CNN & CNBC.