What It does not include, and this is a very, very critical point that is often overlooked, are machines that learn. Contrary to what the name ‘machine learning’ would suggest there are no learning machines involved. In fact the term itself is composed of two words that when combined in that order result in a logical contradiction. A machine cannot learn, for if it could it would no longer be a machine. It also does not include intelligence of any form. Unless you happen to believe that being really, really good at math can magically bestow a thing with intelligence (it cannot) there are no artificial intelligences involved in machine learning or vice versa.

If you are an executive wondering if you should implement machine learning or artificial intelligence I suggest you ask yourself the same questions you would or should before implementing any new system or set of tools. Am I certain that the current tools I have at my disposal are not adequate to the task at hand? If yes, why are they not? In this case the current tools might be spreadsheeting and database plus statistical software packages. Make sure the reason is not because the people you have on staff don’t really know how to use the current tool set to its fullest extent. If your people are truly expert level and are telling you that what you currently have is not able to do the analyses they need done, or you are finding that out for yourself as an expert user, then by all means look to make a change. However, don’t think for a moment you are doing anything more important than upgrading software and possibly hardware as you have probably done many, many times throughout your career. Implementing machine learning and/or AI is no more or less meaningful then when you upgraded from XP to Windows 10 or whatever. It may be different in scale and scope but it is still nothing more than the implementation of modern computing. And remember how Windows 10 (or whatever) was going to solve all your problems and finally do everything you needed. You will have the exact same experience and disappointments with ML and AI.

Research scientist (Ph.D. micro/mol biology), Thought middle manager, Everyday junglist, Selecta (Ret.), Boulderer, Cat lover, Fish hater

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