In our increasingly digitised world, almost every article you read about technology mentions either Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning (or both) – and the rumours surrounding these tech advancements can make them sound quite intimidating. Conversations around facial and voice recognition or self-driving cars can seem other-worldly, threatening our privacy and independence. But the reality of how these technologies are used in our daily lives is often much more down to earth, and a lot less menacing.
Too often, mainstream media focuses on the dramatic and sinister applications of modern technology. And while there are issues around data protection and security when you invest in modern technology, there is a myriad of uses for this tech that people often don’t even realise.
What is Machine Learning?
Where Machine Learning technology helps us is when something that seemed complicated, or even impossible, is suddenly made simple or effortless. This is the growing reality for modern tech. Be it providing something eye-catching, such as allowing you to put a custom background behind your Zoom video, or something completely hidden such as charging your mobile device, deep tech is often at work. And yes, you read that right – charging your mobile device does indeed use deeply complex maths and technology. Ever wondered why your device turns itself on when it is charging? Well, now you know – it needs the processor to manage the charging process.
How do we use Machine Learning innovatively?
There has always been a perception that operating something technically complex was inevitably a complex operation. Increasingly though, technology is making things simple. Consider how you take a picture using your mobile device. If we think back to the early days of photography, taking a great image was complicated; you needed a light meter and considerable technical knowledge to operate the camera, and then you may have stood a chance.
Now? None of that is required. You point your device and, magically, a beautiful image appears on the screen. Is it because producing images just got simpler? Not a bit. It’s simply because the technology within the device now does all the hard work for you. And increasingly, that tech is based on Machine Learning techniques which are now coming to the fore.
So, when you’re taking your picture and the exposure is perfect, and you can adjust the colour cast or apply a blur effect to the background, you can be assured, Machine Learning is working behind the scenes.
The beauty of it is, you don’t know you’re using it.
Or let’s take another example. When you’re in a virtual meeting and you select a custom background, you might be wondering how your computer knows not to cover your face. Machines have learned to recognise many objects in images including cats, dogs and indeed, humans. This means that the Machine Learning that the media is so terrified of, is the exact thing that’s responsible for cutting out your outline and pasting it over your chosen background. Whilst the maths going on behind this is unbelievably complicated, the technology has developed to the stage that users don’t ever need to know about it, and that is a beautiful thing.
What are the disadvantages of AI and Machine Learning?
Make no mistake, as with all tools, technologies such as those discussed above can be put to good use and bad. Smart speakers are rumoured to be listening to us, even when not in use, capturing and analysing private conversations. Complex data algorithms were put to political mal use in the 2016 US presidential election, the Brexit referendum and the Scottish independence vote to name a few.
However, as legislation catches up, privacy laws mature, and understanding of the potential for exploitation increases, it is overwhelmingly the good applications of these extraordinary technologies that will continue to benefit us.
We’re here to help
If you have an impossible problem or a complex process that you believe could be made more efficient, contact us and we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you come up with an imaginative technology solution.