(This article on machine learning originally appeared in Forbes)
Artificial intelligence, isn’t that the technology that’s going to take all of our jobs and eventually make us slaves to robots?
Popular culture has done fantastic work painting a dystopian future where we are all slaves to our self-aware overlords. In case you’ve been hiding under a rom-com rock, here are a few examples of Hollywood’s view on artificial intelligence:
- We barely averted disaster in War Games (thank you, Matthew Broderick, for saving us all with tic-tac-toe).
- We watched the robots take control in HBO’s Westworld, and I can’t imagine Season 2 will improve much for us humans.
- Ex-Machina’s Ava ended up being less-than-loyal as a murdering AI companion.
- In the pièce de ré·sis·tance on the evil nature of AI, we watched helplessly as SkyNet became self-aware and started the apocalypse in the Terminator movies.
So we know what Hollywood thinks of artificial intelligence, but what about business?
Not everyone recognizes the increasingly vital role that machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies are shaping our day-to-day lives right now. Next week at the Machine Learning Innovation Summit in San Francisco, some of the brightest business and product leaders in the world will take the stage to explain how they’re using these technologies every day to make consumer and enterprise products smarter, faster and more creative
According to CB insights, big companies made 34 AI acquisitions in Q1 2017, head-and-shoulders above any other quarter in history. What’s more is that these weren’t just acquisitions by big tech firms: Ford’s acquisition of Argo AI for $1 billion is strong evidence that traditional businesses are diving into the race as well.
Through the accessibility of cloud computing, the ubiquitous availability of parallel processing power, near free data storage and an exponential increase in data input from consumers, we have reached a perfect storm that is enabling artificial intelligence to truly have its day in the sun. Digital and real world businesses are leveraging this technology to drive business outcomes, applying machine learning to their owned data sets to bring the best consumer experiences to the forefront as quickly and efficiently as possible, and they’re getting incredible results. Here are a few ways in which technologies that we use every day are leveraging machine learning to improve your experience.
Pinterest leverages machine learning for content discovery. As a Pinterest user, content recommendations are driven algorithmically, and machine learning is used to parse through the billions of consumer interactions to deliver the right pin to the right user at the right time. On June 5 at the #MLSummit, Head of Knowledge Brian Johnson will discuss how his team categorizes, indexes and surfaces content recommendations on their platform.
We all love to Netflix and chill, but Todd Holloway, Director, Content Science & Algorithms at Netflix is definitely not chilling. He and his team are leveraging machine learning to help Netflix understand consumer watching habits, surfacing insights that will help Netflix’s management team effectively spend the $6 billion in content development that they plan to invest in 2017. Netflix is a pioneer in using data to make better predictions about what content consumers will gravitate towards, and is bringing data-informed decision-making to the content development space.
One of the most obvious, but challenging areas for artificial intelligence is Natural Language Processing and Generation. As we increasingly move from typing to talking to our computers, Zornitsa Kozareva, Manager of Machine Learning for Alexa will present the conversational assistant technologies that the Alexa team uses to better understand what Amazon customers are asking for when they yell “Alexa” from across their living rooms.
These are just a few of the featured presenters at the #MLSummit presenting next week in San Francisco. We are at the dawn of an era in which machine learning will be a horizontal layer across all businesses, and managers should begin exploring and investing in these technologies now. Consumers will expect intelligence from their services, and brands that build core competencies in data science and machine learning stand to create defensible competitive advantages over time. All of this starts with learning, and the #MLSummit is a great opportunity to learn from the best minds in the space.