Why Big Data and Machine Learning Are So Important to Business and Society


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Some researchers argue that we are approaching the border of the technological singularity or have already crossed it. Be that as it may, machine learning and big data will have a huge impact on our society and business in the future. Computer «mind» moves to the web, and we will have to learn to adapt to change if we are to be successful. In the article, we examined the essence, role and significance of these technologies..

The essence of big data and machine learning

No matter how educated a person is, in the modern world it is impossible to know everything. The days of true scholars and jack-of-all-trades are gone. A person can be very smart, but in order to survive he must be a specialist. The world has become too complex for people, even to simply try to find out a significant part of the available information..

Computers help us in solving this problem, but they also have limited capabilities. Machines have memory for storing information and specific computing power that determines the number of calculations performed per second. Although these numbers can vary significantly, even computers now face such a large amount of data that traditional methods of analysis are starting to fail..

Big data means just such huge amounts of data, beyond the control of our minds and even technology, which cannot be processed in the usual ways. To solve such issues, special algorithms are being developed that combine artificial intelligence, computer programming, business and philosophy. They collect colossal amounts of data in order to solve various problems in order to achieve the best result..

Although the impossibility of full coverage and the complexity of the analysis represent a serious problem, at the same time, it opens up new perspectives for enterprising people who can apply automated methods to achieve their goals..

The stock market is a simple example. An analyst can view all kinds of available information and make good trades from time to time, but he will not be able to keep up with automated trading platforms that perform thousands of such transactions per second..

Why is it so important?

In such situations, computerized tools come to the rescue, allowing you to get all the data that are relevant to the problem. Machine learning – it is a technology that helps people solve various problems without even understanding how to do it, or why a certain approach works. Computers can try every possible option and do it very quickly..

For example, if there are a million options, but only one of them is correct, the machine will create models of each and systematically determine the correct one. Although science fiction has idealized the capabilities of artificial intelligence and neural networks, modern algorithms can indeed solve quite serious problems, especially in business and culture..

Let’s assume that you are a major global supplier of products. Let these be ordinary hammers, widely used in construction and everyday life. The question arises: is it necessary to open another factory for the production of hammers? How to find the right answer and objectively assess changes in demand on a global scale?

Why Big Data and Machine Learning Are So Important to Business and Society

One approach is to take a huge bunch of data, say 50 million bank card statements, and try to determine if more people are buying hammers or less. However, it will take several lives to process that many records..

Machine learning and big data can solve this problem with hammers, or at least point us in the right direction. There are many similar problems in the world, and these technologies are beginning to successfully solve them..

New standards and the threat of overregulation

Gradually, governments are setting more and more standards to regulate activities in the information space. The most advanced today is «General data protection regulation» (GDPR), which came into force in the spring of 2018 across the entire European Union. It not only gives residents more rights to control their personal information, but also minimizes their use. The resolution caused a great resonance among the developer community and a lot of controversy in this regard..

Everyone wants to be safe, and no one will like it if their private data goes public or falls into the wrong hands. However, there is a danger that political regulation is missing some points..

One of the GDPR concepts stipulates that the user owns the data  about themselves and services should request them only for the purposes for which they were collected. Therefore, some developers feel that this creates limitations for certain types of machine learning. However, this is not quite true.

The fact is that computer algorithms are capable of identifying people in unusual ways that are not obvious to us and some we will not even be able to understand. This leads to the formation of a false sense of security in relation to «personal» data.

While that might not be all that bad, the government has a legitimate reason to use machine learning analytics to identify threats. Imagine a world in which anyone can buy explosives and then prohibit the use of that information to identify the demolitionist. Therefore, in this issue, extremes are unacceptable and there is a huge field for discussion..

Information era

Despite all the achievements, society does not yet fully realize the potential of big data and machine learning. There is a lot of data and humanity will continue to develop technical tools to process it. In any case, we live in the information age, and although no one knows exactly where this will lead, we are all moving there together..

text: Ilya Bauer, photo: Unsplash, elgibborsms

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