Artificial intelligence is everywhere. There is a possibility that you are using it in one way or the other and you don’t even know about it.
You must have seen an advertisement for Amazon Echo, Alexa, Siri, Cortana are some of the popular virtual personal assistants that help us in finding information, for example:
What is my schedule for today?
What are the flights from Delhi to Mumbai?
Apps like Spotify, Pandora and Apple music are capable of recommending music based on your interest. These apps monitor the choices you make, insert them into a learning algorithm and suggest music you are most likely to enjoy.
Have you ever noticed that you shopped for a product online a few days back and then you keep receiving emails and adds on websites for shopping suggestions? This refines the shopping experience but do you know why it is so? It’s Machine Learning doing the magic for you. On the basis of your behaviour with the website you browsed, things are recommended.
Before digging deeper into the topic, let’s briefly know what artificial intelligence is, the role of Machine Learning and why it matters to us.
Artificial Intelligence is the branch of Computer Science concerned with making computers behave like humans. Basically, it is the ability of a machine or a computer program to think and learn, where they can be capable of interacting with their environment and acting upon the received data in a manner considered intelligent. Usually, they are considered for performing specific tasks, like to calculate equations, file your taxes, in video games to make the game challenging, industrial robotics, banking software, medical diagnosis.
In 1950, Alan Turing a computer scientist proposed a test named as Turing Test. It was designed to test whether a particular machine can think. In order to pass the test, the machine must be capable of making a human believe that it is another human instead of a computer. And just after this test, in 1959, another scientist Arthur Samuel coined the term Machine Learning, evolved from the study of pattern recognition and learning theory of Artificial Intelligence. When we say that the machine learns, we mean that the machine is able to make predictions based on past behaviour or observations. We can say that it is a method of data analysis based on the idea that a system can learn from data, identify patterns, make decisions and identify focuses on the development of computer programs. It makes the software applications more accurate in predicting outcomes without being programmed.
But how exactly do machines learn? They are often categorised as supervised learning where an algorithm seeks a function from inputs to the respective targets. Here, input and the outputs are clearly identified and when Machine Learning task is only with a set of input then it is termed as unsupervised Machine Learning. It is estimated that about 70% of Machine Learning is supervised learning, while 10-20% is unsupervised learning. Other methods that are often used are semi-supervised and reinforcement learning.
To better understand the use of Machine Learning, consider some instances where it is applied:
Have you ever thought how Uber/Ola determine the price of your ride? The answer is simple Machine Learning. Using a Machine Learning algorithm, it determines arrival time, pickup locations and delivery estimations.
Have you been using GPS navigation services? When we use this service, our real-time location and the speed with which we are travelling are saved at a server. And this data is then used to build a map of current traffic.
Nowadays, a number of websites offer the option to chat with a customer support representative. As every website does not have real people to answer queries all the time, in most cases you talk to a bot. These chatbots understand the user queries and serve them by extracting information from the website.
This is why it’s said we are living in the golden age of Machine Learning. With the current rate of development it’s difficult to foresee a future without Machine Learning in it.
IBM recently surveyed top auto executives and 74% expected that we would see smart cars on the road by 2025. These cars, using Machine Learning, will not only drive themselves but also learn about driver preference and automatically adjust temperature and music based on their likes and dislikes.
Machine Learning is also taking a bigger part in our health and well being on a daily basis. It is used for faster patient diagnosis. Doctors will soon be able to predict with accuracy on how long patients with fatal diseases will live. Not only this, it is expected that within the next decade, a majority of our shipping and rail networks will be controlled autonomously.
We can see just how far we have come in terms of Machine Learning. And we are going to see massive developments in the near future. Time will show us that Machine Learning is one of our greatest tech blessings.