CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 36

Machine learning is emerging as a defining technology of our era.

It used to be that one great technology

spam and non-spam e-mail messages,

machine learning enables more-

defined an era. The steam engine, for

a good machine learning program

accurate demand forecasts, ensuring

example, served as the catalyst for the

will successfully identify (i.e.,

that stock levels are nearly always

rise of the industrial age. Nowadays,

predict), without human intervention,

correct in the supply chain or even in

however, a number of amazing

whether or not a new message

a single retail store.

technical advances and inventions

is spam.

are contending for bragging rights as
the leading technology of our times.
I would argue that one is particularly
worthy of such boasting: machine
learning. Although it has been in slow
and steady development for years
and has been used in a few enterprise
applications, it has recently burst
onto the scene in response to
the explosion of data in today's
increasingly connected digital world.
Indeed, machine learning is rapidly
becoming available to the masses as a
tool for making intelligent predictions
on the basis of an analysis of
past data.

successfully to assist in a number

What's New and Exciting
About Machine Learning?

of specific tasks. When you swipe

While machine learning has been

your credit card, machine learning

around for a long time, until recently

algorithms consider in real time

only people with deep skills and deep

the location and amount of your

pockets could use and benefit from it.

purchase along with a host of other

This is now changing rapidly because

factors to determine whether it is

of both the explosion of data available

legitimate or fraudulent. Similarly,

for analysis and the advent of cloud-

when you shop for a product online

based machine learning capabilities.

Machine learning has been applied

and are presented with related
choices, or with choices that might
seem unrelated, machine learning is
at work, comparing your purchase
history with that of many other
customers, some with tastes much

What Is Machine

like yours. Consumers benefit

Machine learning is a branch of

increased sales resulting from those

artificial intelligence that leverages


advanced statistics. Similar to the
human learning process, machine
learning involves "training"
computers using data labeled or
classified based on previous outcomes
and software algorithms that "learn"
how to predict the classification of
new data not labeled or classified. For
example, after a period of training in
which the computer is presented with

CTO Straight Talk | 36

from targeted recommendations,
and companies benefit from

There's been a lot of big talk about big
data recently, and there should be. As
the volume, types, and speed of data
grow, organizations of all kinds need
powerful analytical models to make
data-driven decisions. This requires
high-performance computation
that is "close" to the data and scales
with the business's needs over time.
New technologies such as Hadoop
facilitate the collection and analysis

Machine learning is more than

of large amounts of unstructured

the sum of its data components;

data, something we could not do

it involves continual learning -

before as easily - certainly not at

inferring from the data insights that

this scale.

we ourselves might not grasp and
then predicting possible outcomes.
Critically, when you can predict
outcomes you can optimize business
systems and processes. For example,

Speaking of scale, we are also
monitoring the incredible potential
of the Internet of Things, which will
bring intelligence to objects and
devices not only in our personal world


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2


CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2