Machine Learning

What is Machine Learning (ML)?

Feb 17th 2020


3 min reading

Machine Learning

Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides systems the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed.

Until recently, machines with ‘minds of their own’ have been isolated to the realms of dystopian science fiction. But with the growing application of Machine Learning, smart tech is now a reality. Although we’re no closer to finding whether androids really do dream of electric sheep, ML is more than just a popular tech industry buzzword — the introduction and development of such systems has revolutionised both how we conduct business and our daily lives. As our reliance on technology increases, so will our use and development of Machine Learning. So what exactly is ‘Machine Learning’ (ML) and why does it matter?

What is Machine Learning (ML)?

Put simply, Machine Learning is a branch of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It’s a predictive algorithm that allows systems to learn from data and identify patterns. ML systems can autonomously improve over time from experience, with minimal human interference or assistance. Machine Learning can take the form of:

  • Supervised

  • Unsupervised

  • Reinforcement

Why is Machine Learning important?

Within the last 5 years, new applications of AI and Machine Learning have already radically transformed the way we live and work. Currently, big enterprises such as Google and IBM are aggressively acquiring AI and Machine Learning startups. According to CBInsights, since 2010 the quantity of acquisitions has increased every year. As of August 2019, the number of AI startup acquisitions was set to overtake the total number of acquisitions in 2018– 20x the number of acquisitions seen in 2010.

Similarly, the pace at which acquisitions are happening is increasing, partially due to a growth in the number and diversity of acquirers.

Social Media and Search Engines

Big query search engines have been quick to take up AI and Machine Learning technology. Chinese search engine, Baidu, has been actively pursuing Machine Learning capabilities in voice-activated search functions. Similarly, Twitter has integrated Machine Learning algorithms into newsfeed curation, predicting trending articles and topics to display to users.


Shopping retailers have also invested in Machine Learning. In an industry that relies on agility and speed to deliver trends, H&M has already been utilising AI technology to make smarter purchasing decisions in their supply chain. The brand has since implemented algorithms that can predict which items will sell best in different store locations.


Click here to find out more about how Compass uses Machine Learning