Michael Byrne, writing for the Outline: Here’s what you need to know about every way-cool and-or way-creepy machine learning study that has ever been or will ever be published: Anything that can be represented in some fashion by patterns within data — any abstract-able thing that exists in the objective world, from online restaurant reviews to geopolitics — can be “predicted” by machine learning models given sufficient historical data. At the heart of nearly every foaming news article starting with the words “AI knows …” is some machine learning paper exploiting this basic realization. “AI knows if you have skin cancer.” “AI beats doctors at predicting heart attacks.” “AI predicts future crime.” “AI knows how many calories are in that cookie.” There is no real magic behind these findings. The findings themselves are often taken as profound simply for having way-cool concepts like deep learning and artificial intelligence and neural networks attached to them, rather than because they are offering some great insight or utility — which most of the time, they are not.
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