How to get into this field of work where you can actually work on developing and applying Machine Learning algorithms every day?

The following advice is based on this reply on HN:

I’m probably the worst example of how to get into this field of work, but since I do actually work on developing and applying ML algorithms every day, I think my case might be relevant. Firstly, my background is not in mathematics or computer science what-so-ever; I’m a classically trained botanist who started came at the issue of programming, computer science, and ML from a perspective of “I’ve got questions I want to ask and techniques I want to apply that I’m currently under prepared to answer.”

Working as a technician for the USDA, I learned programming (R and python) primarily because I needed a better way to deal with large data sets than excel (which prior to 5 years ago was all I used). At some point I put my foot down and decided I would go no further until I learned to manage the data I was collecting programmatically. The data I was collecting were UAV imagery, field and spectral reference data, specifically regarding the distribution of invasive plant species in cropping systems. The central thrust of the project was to automatically detect and delineate weed-species in cropping systems from low altitude UAV collects. This eventually folded into doing a masters degree continuing to develop this project. That folded into additional projects applying ML methods to feature discrimination in a wide range of data types. Currently I work for a geo-spatial company, doing vegetative classification in a wide range of environments with some incredibly interesting data (sometimes).

I think you’ve got the issue a bit cart-horse backwards. In a sense I see you as having a solution, but no problem to apply it too. The methods are ALL there, and there are plenty of other posts in this thread addressing where to learn the principals of ML. What this doesn’t offer you, is a why of why you should care about a thing? My recommendation would be to find something of personal interest to you in which ML may play a role.

With out a good reason to apply the techniques that everyone else here is outlining, I think it would be too challenging to keep the level of interest and energy required to realize how to apply these concepts. Watching lectures, reading articles, doing coursework is all very important, but it shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for having personally meaningful work to do. Meaningful work will do more to drive your interests than anything.

Such a solid advice. A great approach on how to get into a new field and sticking for the long term. I think this is applicable to any field and not just Machine Learning.