Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Machine Learning and You

Machine Learning is super cool.
To most people it is just a fancy phrase kind of like Quantum Mechanics.

Working with data most of my life I was happy to finally start to embrace and understand the world of Machine Learning a few years ago. It has really changed my life.

So what is Machine Learning?
Machine Learning is a way to "comprehend" data that humans cannot really understand. Usually because the data is so highly multi-dimensional or has a non-linear association.

So I saw an ad in my email today(yes I have a email, don't hate. I have had it since 1997 or so and use it when a website asks for website sign-up spam) and there was an ad for a dating site for finding women over 50 years of age. I started thinking.

These ads in your email box usually use some Machine Learning algorithms to take many different factors about you and who you communicate with to determine what ads to feed you. Maybe these ads know me better than I know myself because I can't comprehend all the factors that go into making a good relationship. Maybe I should start dating 50+ year old women because they would be a great fit for me.... 
This was a very existential few minutes where I attempted to determine if what I knew about myself was actually true or just what I thought to be true.

But then I just refreshed the webpage a few times and found out that the algorithm(if there even is one) to choose which ads to display is most likely not using Machine Learning and just outputs random stupid adverts such as to the Stop the Sugar Addiction I don't have(I actually really dislike sugary foods) or to take out an Extra Loan on the Mortgage I don't have.

Oh well. Let me tell you, that was an intense couple of minutes. At least I am glad I didn't make a extreme life choice because of's shitty advertisement algorithm. Someday soon this might actually be the case though. Where maybe we should listen to ads on Gmail because they know us better than we know ourselves. Hmmmmmm