What Does Machine Learning Mean for You?

If you’ve been following the news recently, you’ve probably heard a few of the breaking stories about robots beating humans in fairly complex tasks. It started with game show contestants, evolved into outperforming human instinct, and now computers are even outperforming fighter pilots in tactical simulations. What does this all mean for you?

Although Hollywood loves to depict artificial intelligence as robots out to destroy humans, that’s far from the case in the real world. Chances are you’ve been using artificial intelligence for awhile and haven’t even noticed.

Voice Controls

Siri, Cortana, and the Amazon Echo. What do these devices have in common? They all use machine learning to for essential tasks. For example, being able to talk to these interfaces like you’re having a conversation — computers are now able to understand context and understand complete phrases. More advanced systems such as Viv, created by the team behind Siri, can process multiple commands from different people all at once.

Big Data

There’s plenty of services on the web which appear to be free, however in reality you’re the product being sold. The Amazon Echo is constantly monitoring everything being said in your home. Facebook has been developing facial recognition and tracking to build up troves of information on the web.

Gary Riger, founder of BKLYN mentioned in a conversation, “People come up to us all the time asking about ways to automate existing processes. We find that data visualization is a big one. With Google and Facebook learning more about our interests and likes, they are able to gather boatloads of data.”

Going on to say, “ The follow up question is naturally, ‘How can we leverage all of this data?’ Data allows us to build things like prediction engines. The more information you have, the easier it becomes to predict what might happen next. This will ultimately optimize how we live and work. Instead of seeking out information, information will find us.”

Taking Human Jobs

Those jokes about the $15 minimum wage causing “burger flippers” to lose their jobs are finally becoming a reality. A restaurant in San Francisco is opening which uses robots to slice toppings, grill a patty, assemble, and bag the burger without any help from humans.

Of course, this is just the beginning. Artificial intelligence technologies are becoming so advanced that even a 2013 Oxford University study found that 47% of jobs are at risk of being automated in the next 20 years.

While this sounds bad on the surface, in reality it’s a good thing. This isn’t the first period of time when jobs were replaced by automation. When the industrial revolution occurred, entire professions were replaced with machines. This just resulted in people shifting their skills towards other careers which were more in demand.