Sunday, July 22, 2018

Machine Learning.

Machine Learning.

Imagine that you put a baby in a room.  You give the baby a square block. The baby will explore the block. It will file the block's shape, hardness, taste and smell into its memory. Introduce a slab of wood that has a square hole. The baby will explore the slab of wood and eventually it will put the square block into the hole. If you add shapes and matching holes the baby will learn through experience what shapes go into what holes. You can speed this process up by teaching the baby how to study the shape and find the corresponding hole.

Machine Learning is exactly the same process.  A machine can be programmed to explore objects and catalog those objects parameters in its memory. Through the use of algorithms you can have the machine perform an infinite array of tasks with this information. The big difference is, once one machine has learned the information, it can be exactly duplicated to other machines. An army of machines only needs one machine to learn the task. Machine Learning is a small portion of the greater field of study known as Artificial Intelligence.

It does not take much imagination to understand the benefits of machine learning. Imagine a machine that can clean up toxic spills. People would no longer need to do jobs that are inherently dangerous, and the machine can work 24 hours a day. But why stop there?

You go to your favorite fast food chain. Lately they have been messing up your order. It almost gives you a complex. Now introducing the Burger Gurgler 2020 . . . it never makes a mistake. In fact, with its connection to the internet and access to cell phone data, it can predict how many customers will visit in the next 20 minutes. The owner of the store loves this. Minimal food waste, the machine is always on time for work.  The food will be hot, untouched my human hands, and exactly the same every time. Sounds great!!

That is, it sort of sounds great. Unless you are one of those people that used to sling burgers. Cheer up! You might be able to get a job as a Burger Gurgler 2020 cleaner until someone programs a Burger Gurgler 2020 Jiffy Cleaner.

This brings up an interesting topic.  What if the machine breaks?  Wouldn't a person need to diagnose the problem and fix it?  You are kidding, right?  A machine that can diagnose and fix itself is part of the plan.

It may sound like futuristic fantasy, but ask yourself when was the last time you saw someone cutting a tree into lumber by hand? Have you been to the bank, or a store?  Humans are quickly becoming a burden on some businesses.

Technology has a way of  slowly creeping its way into everyday life.  Then suddenly there is a leap that upsets the order of things.

An example is the railroad. Prior to railroads, animals were used to move goods and people. At first the railroads used large numbers of people and animals to lay the rails. Once the rails were down the people and animals were no longer needed. 

Regardless of whether you love or hate the idea of AI, it is here and the great leap is not far away.  The number of people that will be needed to take care of even complex tasks will be eliminated.

What will they do?