If artificial intelligence (AI) is the Holy Grail of software development, machine learning is its real-world, less-sexy cousin.
There's another difference between the two, which are often seen as two sides of the same coin: Machine learning is already in use as algorithms tackle everything from data security to financial transactions to app development, online search and even the directions you get from your smartphone. It can even suss out fake goods.
AI, by contrast, remains a, shall we say, "aspirational" dream. That's how Infoworld's Serdar Yegulalp explains it to PC World's Michael Simon and Computerworld's Ken Mingis in this episode of Tech Talk. Our tech trio dug down into the weeds on both topics, with Yegulalp leading the discussion.
In essense, think of machine learning as a set of algorithms designed to enhance the behavior of existing software. Plain and simple, it's a tool, Yegulalp says. And as such, it's already being used in a variety of industries – a trend likely to continue and accelerate over the next 5 to 10 years.
What it's not is AI.
AI, as most people think of it – the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey or the hosts in Westworld – doesn't exist yet. And we may never get to the point where true sentience in hardware and software arrives – though, as our tech trio agrees, we might not ever really want it to.
Otherwise, we could have a Skynet situation on our hands. And no one wants that.