Several recent news stories have touted machine learning algorithms as the breakthrough technology that will allow computers to achieve true artificial intelligence. You may ask, "How do these things work?" Well, I could try to explain the algorithms with several pages of equations filled with mathematical hieroglyphics and curlicues; however, I think the magic of machine learning could be better understood by reading the following excerpt from my upcoming off-Broadway play entitled A Machine Learning Algorithm Attends First Grade.
(Open Scene: Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a newly coded machine learning algorithm, known as "MLA0110" to all his friends, starts his first day in first grade at the school for gifted children. He meets his math teacher in the school lobby.)
Teacher: Why, hello, MLA0110, welcome to our school. I hear you are very good at math.
MLA0110: Yes, I have been designed to solve analytical problems that no carbon-based lifeform could possibly answer.
Teacher: Well, we don’t like to promote bragging at this school, but it’s great that you have confidence in yourself. Why don’t I give you a question from our last arithmetic test. What is 6+7?
Teacher: Wow, that’s way off.
MLA0110: Then the answer is 5.
Teacher: Ummm, I don’t think multiple guesses were allowed on the test. But even so, you're still incorrect.
MLA0110: Then the answer is 15.
Teacher: Oh, no! First your answers were too small, now they're too big.
MLA0110: Then the answer is 13.
Teacher: OK, OK, you can stop now. You finally got the right answer. Maybe I should have given you a simpler problem to build your confidence. Do you happen to know what is 2 + 2?
MLA0110: The answer must be 13.
Teacher: Well, now you’re just being difficult.
MLA0110: Teacher, if you would just give me the answers to the last 5,000,000 questions on your previous tests, I can build my data set, adjust my parameters, and then answer any addition question you could ask.
Teacher: I think someone needs a time-out. Why don’t you sit over there in the corner, while I go call your mother.
(Lights fade to black. End Scene)
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