If you were using email in the early 2000’s, you may remember it was around that time that spam was becoming a serious problem. Think of roughly 80% of your email being unsolicited garbage from unprincipled marketers and con artists. Imagine having to sort through that on your own, every day. There were various attempts at addressing the problem, and it was around 2002 that Machine Learning techniques started to be applied to identify and filter out spam. Over the years more sophisticated Artificial Intelligence techniques have been applied, such that the difficult, yet indispensable task of spam filtering is done for us, executed pretty well, and is nearly invisible to us.
I think it's safe to say that no one would use an email service that does not include spam filtering. There's an analogy here. Machine Learning is changing the landscape, and technology applications that succeed in today's market will incorporate some form of intelligence as an indispensable component. This is certainly true for tech giants. Joaquin Candela, Director of Engineering for Applied Machine Learning at Facebook, recently said, "Facebook today cannot exist without AI." But, this is equally true for startups. The ability to easily connect anything to the internet, ubiquitous data, and Cloud-based Machine Learning platforms (such as those offered by Amazon Web Services) have put intelligent applications within reach of innovators and entrepreneurs creating new tech products.
But beware, just because a product has built in Artificial Intelligence doesn't automatically make it a great product. It's tempting to put the focus on the algorithms and models and neglect the business problem. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning offer a way to power up an already great idea, to create a more powerful and engaging experience, and to set a product apart; they are not the product itself.
If you are interested in hearing more and learning how to apply Machine Learning to power up your idea, I'll be speaking on this topic at EntreFEST 2017. It would be great to see you there!