We are about to enter a new age of artificial intelligence, which is set to completely change how we interact with the internet. This could transform our way of life, and it's all thanks to a deep learning: a method of getting computers to teach themselves how to perform certain tasks.
The arrival of deep learning
This is something that has been hypothesised since the 1930s, but it is only now that computers have become fast and cheap enough to make it work. Deep learning requires the creation of a neural network - which functions like a human brain - and a lot of data to feed into it. The machine can then start recognizing patterns and teaching itself how to improve.
So far, so good. It sounds interesting, but how will it change the internet? There are a number of answers to that. One of the most exciting is image and speech recognition. Google, Apple Microsoft and Amazon all have systems and devices that can do this, thanks to deep learning algorithms.
Frank Chen, a partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, said to Fortune: "This is deep learning’s Cambrian explosion." The amount of data online combined with improved computing power has meant that speech and image recognition technology has come onto the scene incredibly quickly; and this is just the start.
Automation and the internet
A piece from Econsultancy points out that deep learning could be used to automate aspects of commerce, such as pricing. With enough data about your products, what they cost, how much they sell and other variables, you could get a computer to teach itself what an optimum price is for them.
Meanwhile, a computer’s ability to understand terabytes of data gives them the ability to be more proactive than a human. Salesforce predicts that deep learning could be used to get a computer to recognize the context of emails, providing you with the information you want to know from them.
All this looks set to essentially automate how we use the internet. A user could potentially ask a device to order them some food or choose them a movie to watch, and - assuming it had enough data to go on - it could do the rest for them. For a generation that has been brought up using keyboards and searching for things manually, this would completely change the act of going online.
This is no longer something that can only be done with a supercomputer. Alex Hern wrote in the Guardian about creating his own machine learning algorithm. While it was far from perfect, it does highlight how companies can potentially be using deep learning to develop their own businesses.