Apple buys Turi for…? And what is Machine Learning?

Apple has reportedly purchased machine learning company Turi. The expectation is that they will use it to improve other Apple products, most likely Siri. But what is machine learning and how does it fit with the algorithms I’ve been talking about lately.

If you go to Wikipedia and check out the Machine Learning article it offers the ‘helpful’ definition:

Field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed”.[2] Machine learning explores the study and construction of algorithms that can learn from and perform predictive analysis on data.[3]

Cutting through all that babble, it means teaching machines how to make intelligent guesses! These are programs that get taught a ‘training set’ of observations (data) that are used to guide the sort of outputs that are desired. Beyond that they are not specifically programmed.

Now I feel threatened! I’m pretty good at taking a set of observations and predicting the outcome. Maybe it’s time for me to find a new gig! First they come for the assistant editor’s job, then editor, then the writer and then the technologists.