Computers are as smart as what we tell them to do. But what if we teach them how to modify their responses based on the information they’re given? This, in a nutshell, is machine learning. It’s a way of analyzing data that uses algorithms that iterate according to the data and essentially ‘learn’ based on that information. This allows computers to find patterns make assertions without being programmed to find that information explicitly. Sounds fancy, huh? Well how do you think Siri/Cortana/Alexa works? Like these sophisticated AI programs, many companies are certainly taking advantage of advances in machine learning and you see it everyday and might not even know it.
Remember E-mail Spam?
It’s rare that you ever see email true spam in your inbox anymore – why do you think that is? Machine learning! During the height of email spam, email service providers had to put a stop to all of the unwanted, spammy emails that kept hitting email inboxes. However smart spammers change their tactic, and that means you have to change your programming to account for that with every change. This is where machine learning was used to adapt the way spam is filtered out of your inbox regardless of the source or content of the message. Today other companies like Disqus are using similar tactics to weed out spam user-generated content from sites across the web.
Just Google It
If you have to search for something, it’s usually done on Google – and did you ever wonder how those search results are sorted and why? How does Google always seem to put exactly what you were looking for at the top? It’s because Google’s search engine is smart and keeps getting smarter. The more people search different keywords – whether it’s all together or one search after another – Google learns what search terms are emerging and identifies patterns to both give you suggestions as you type and serve you with the best most relevant results.
Good? Negative? Neutral?
Brands make decisions based on what their customers think and say about their products. What they ‘say’ can be in the form of sales, clicks to a website, downloads, etc. But what about what they actually are saying? Sentiment analysis is one of the coolest ways machine learning is being used. With machine learning, a sentiment analysis engine can scour millions of tweets and Facebook posts and given the words being used, can decipher whether the comments are generally good, negative or neutral. And if you think about this, depending on the industry there is no way there is a one-size-fits-all solution to sentiment analysis. A word that is negative for one brand might be positive for another, so the engine needs to be able to learn as it receives more data.
The Future of Machine Learning
Machine learning is such a rapidly evolving technology that we’re only seeing the beginning of what we can accomplish. Google, spam, sentiment, it’s all amazing. Looking into the future machine learning is Siri, self-driving cars, and so much more that could change the way we, as a society, operate.
Interested in Machine Learning?
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