One of the best ways to understand machine learning is to look at the various applications of machine learning in the business world:
- Data security: In an attempt to avoid detection, people who produce malware constantly change the code, typically two to ten percent, but with machine learning, security software can accommodate this small percentage in variation and accurately identify the newly created malware. It can also look for patterns in how data is accessed to identify possible security threats.
- Investing: Machine learning enables computers to process vast amounts of financial data and use its findings to predict changes in the market and in prices of individual stocks and bonds. They can also execute trades at higher speeds and volumes than can traditional traders to generate large profits for investors.
- Online software development: Online software developers can use machine learning to gather data about how users interact with their software and analyze that data to improve usability and come up with ideas for new features and new ways to monetize the software.
- Healthcare: With machine learning, doctors can use computers to do everything from diagnosing illnesses significantly earlier than they would otherwise be diagnosed to identifying variables that predict whether a patient will develop a specific illness.
- Personalized marketing: Machine learning enables companies to personalize their marketing by analyzing a user’s online behavior. For example, if you start searching for cars on the web, you’re likely to be inundated with car ads on various sites you visit. Netflix and Spotify use machine language to recommend movies and music to users based on their viewing or listening history. Amazon provides recommendations based on your purchase history.
- Fraud detection and prevention: Credit card companies and other financial institutions can use machine learning to identify transaction patterns that are out of sync with a customer’s purchase history and either suspend usage of the card or notify the cardholder of the suspicious activity.
- Online searches: Google and other online search sites use machine learning to rank items in their search results. If you search for a term, click a certain link and remain on that page for some time, Google assumes that the page provided what you needed, which may give a boost to that page in the rankings for when you or someone else searches for that same word or phrase.
- Smart devices: Smart devices collect data regarding their usage and personalize their operation based on those patterns. For example, a smart thermostat can learn your schedule and start cranking up the heat just before you come home from work and crank it down just before you go to sleep.