Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Author: Brandon Ma
Editors: Katelyn Ma and Simran Gohel
Artist: Nicole Tseng
When one thinks of technology, they may think of items such as flying cars or human-like robots that are seen in movies and shows. Sadly, the robot part does not exist yet. However, A.I. (machine learning) is very real and becoming more and more useful. What exactly is machine learning and why is it important? These are a few of the questions we will be answering in this blog post!
So, what exactly is machine learning? According to the SAS Institute, a major software company, machine learning is described as “a method of data analysis that automates analytical model building. It is a branch of artificial intelligence based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns, and make decisions with minimal human intervention.” What this means is that machine learning is a field where computer programs can automatically learn and improve themselves without human intervention or further programming. It can process and access data and use that data to learn for themselves. Read further to see some of the examples applied in the real world!
One simple example of how powerful machine learning can be is Google’s chess bot, AlphaZero. When learning Chess, a normal human might take hours trying to get the basics and years trying to master the game. However, AlphaZero, a program designed to learn chess without human intervention, can learn and master the game within a mere four hours. After these four hours, the program completely demolished Stockfish, which used to be the leading chess computer program. No human can defeat AlphaZero, and the program can even demolish the world’s best human chess player, Magnus Carlsen.
Machine learning is also already used by some websites such as Youtube or Google to give viewers a more personalized experience on the internet. For example, on Youtube, there is a section called “Recommended”. Youtube gets those videos for you through their machine learning algorithms. The algorithms can detect what type of videos you are watching, and then recommend other videos similar to those (such as similar games, creators, music, etc.). This entire process is done without any human intervention and is also quick and efficient. This method provides you with more personalized content so you will enjoy more videos and Youtube also gets more of the ad revenue (win-win situation).
However, machine learning can also be applied more seriously or to help people in fields such as medicine. One of the ways machine learning is making its way in the medical field by being able to store large amounts of data and learning from existing cases, therefore, being able to diagnose patients. More advantages are that the programs can share all the data across the databases to be more connected than humans, analyzing new diseases and sicknesses, and helping in the field of medical research and development. Though machine learning in the medical field is far from perfect at this point, hospitals and companies are developing it and hopefully, it will continue to grow and help more people in the future.
Hopefully, this article has brought you more knowledge on the technology portion of STEM, and more importantly, machine learning. Remember, these examples listed are only a very small portion of what machine learning can accomplish, and you can always research and get into coding, machine learning, or whatever interests you in STEM!
Nature Materials “Ascent of Machine Learning in Medicine.” Nature News. Nature
Publishing Group, April 18, 2019. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41563-019-0360-1.
Newton, Casey. “How YouTube Perfected the Feed.” The Verge. The Verge, August 30, 2017.
Sadler, Matthew, and Natasha Regan. “DeepMind's Superhuman AI Is Rewriting How We
Play Chess.” WIRED UK. WIRED UK, February 18, 2019.
SAS “Machine Learning: What It Is and Why It Matters.” SAS, Accessed August 9, 2020.