On one hand, it may help cure cancer and let robots rather than humans fight wars; on the other, doctors and lawyers may be out of a job.
We may not be aware of it, but machine learning is already an integral part of our daily lives, from the product choices that Amazon offers us to the surveillance of our data by the National Security Agency. Few of us understand it or the implications, however.
Read this interview with Pedro Domingos, professor of computer science at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of The Master Algorithm: How The Quest For The Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World.
“In traditional programming, you have to explain to the computer in painstaking detail what you want it to do. That’s what an algorithm is: a set of instructions you give the computer.
With machine learning you program the computer to learn by itself. When you do a web search, machine learning chooses the results you get. Amazon uses it to recommend products; Netflix uses it to recommend movies; Facebook and Twitter use it to choose which posts to show you. Pretty much everything that happens online involves machine learning.”
“Machines can attend to vastly more information and more complex processes than human beings.”
In this interview Pedro Domingos is talking about his latest book and research, called “The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World“.
“The Master Algorithm is an algorithm that can learn anything from data. Give it data about planetary motions and inclined planes, and it discovers Newton’s law of gravity. Give it DNA crystallography data and it discovers theDouble Helix. Give it a vast database of cancer patient records and it learns to diagnose and cure cancer.”
(Photograph by Robert Clark, National Geographic Creative)