“Machine learning” is a hot field, and tremendous strides are being made in programming machines to improve as they work. Such machines work toward a goal, in a way that appears autonomous and seems eerily like human learning. But can machines really learn? What happens during machine learning, and is it the same thing as human learning?
Because the algorithms that generate machine learning are complex, what is really happening during the “learning” process is obscured both by the inherent complexity of the subject and the technical jargon of computer science. Thus it is useful to consider the principles that underlie machine learning in a simplified way to see what we really mean by such “learning.”
A book is a type of simple machine. It is a tool we use to store and retrieve information, analogous in that respect to a computer. The paper, the glue, and the ink are the book’s hardware. The information in the book is the software. The programmer is the author and the user is the reader. Can a book learn in the way that machines learn?
Of course it can, in one sense.
Let us say that a teacher writes a reference book for mathematics for his students. … More.
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