Human and Machine Learning

I was reading about the Microsoft Cognitive Services and their wider release in preview to more developers. There are a few of the many machine learning services that anyone can use to build more intelligence into their applications. The entire Cognitive Services include some interesting sets of APIs that allow us to build new features and even new capabilities that we might never have considered without the power of machine learning to change the behavior of systems over time.

With machine learning, we have more and more ways to analyze data, allowing our systems to actually react to the data and become better at their particular task. I think there are certainly some dangers in how these systems might be hacked, but for many uses, I think ways that these platforms can work with speech, images and more might really alter the way in which we decide to build new applications in the future. The goal, at least according to Microsoft, is to have the AI services help humans accomplish tasks, not replace them. That’s something I hope actually comes true.

I do think that we don’t quite know how these machine learning systems will grow and interact with people over time. They work by analyzing data, and altering behavior based on data, which means that we need to better understand the implications and effects of various algorithms and systems. I hope that more companies and developers spend time experimenting and working with various APIs and services to learn more about them. I’d like to see more projects and proof-of-concept systems.

Some of us will just build things that aren’t useful, or that don’t even work well. That’s OK. We need to experiment, and understand these are experiments. These aren’t guaranteed ways of producing information from data. As long as we get that, or at least understand some of the work we may do for clients will need to be thrown away, that’s fine. I know there’s pressure in many companies to be efficient and just work on things that help the organization move forward. I’m sure some companies will make bad decisions, or even abuse their AI systems. I’m also hopeful that more will realize that some experimentation is necessary if you want to find new ways to create richer, more reactive and customized systems based on the massive amounts of data we collect every day.

Steve Jones

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