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Machine learning, explained

When companies today deploy artificial intelligence programs, they are most likely using machine learning — so much so that the terms are often used interchangeably, and sometimes ambiguously.


Machine learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence that gives computers the ability to learn without explicitly being programmed.


“In just the last five or 10 years, machine learning has become a critical way, arguably the most important way, most parts of AI are done,” said MIT Sloan School of Management professor Thomas W. Malone, the founding director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. “So that's why some people use the terms AI and machine learning almost as synonymous … most of the current advances in AI have involved machine learning.”


While not everyone needs to know the technical details, they should understand what the technology does and what it can and cannot do. That includes being aware of the social, societal, and ethical implications of machine learning.


So, on to machine learning and beyond.


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