Apps That Learn : Machine Learning

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“Machine learning” – the phrase itself sounds like something from a William Gibson novel, perhaps Neuromancer. There are also other connotations that bring to mind sci-fi memes like SkyNet, or maybe Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Despite those references, machine learning is not a negative thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing, particularly for your business.

Machine learning has gone through a number of different meanings over the years. Today, it’s more about software and apps than about actual machines. It’s about how the applications you interact with every day learn more about you, and about the world in which you live, in order to provide better service, a better usage experience, or greater customization.

IBM Research summed it up very well – “Machine learning will enable cognitive systems to learn, reason and engage with us in a more natural and personalized way. These systems will get smarter and more customized through interactions with data, devices and people. They will help us take on what may have been seen as unsolvable problems by using all the information that surrounds us and bringing the right insight or suggestion to our fingertips right when it’s most needed.”

With that being said, machine learning isn’t always a good thing. If applied incorrectly in an application, it can leave users wanting. It can even result in a less than enjoyable experience overall, causing user defection to other, less intrusive or more accurate apps.