Machine learning is the result of pattern recognition and computational learning theory and is the precursor to Artificial Intelligence. AI is a terrain that has grabbed a lot of attention lately due to the possibilities it might offer. Stephen Hawking, scientist and Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO warn that AI can pose a serious threat to humankind, I agree! Nevertheless machine learning can help us to improve quality of life in a variety of situations all around the World.I came across a really interesting publication by John Quinn from the School of Computing and Informatics Technology from the Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He discusses some machine learning applications for the developing world as a way to compensate for a lack of human experts and to improve intelligence gathering. More than half of health care centres in Uganda have microscopes but not all of them have a trained lab technician to operate them. Object detection software developed with machine learning installed on smartphones can help interpret the images and provide diagnosis by analysing patterns on blood samples previously annotated by trained people. Another use of the technology is to monitor crop diseases. A $80 smartphone - 350,000 units sold only in Kenya in 2011 - can be the data acquisition tool that can automate the disease vector count and then make digital detection of plague patterns.Sensors that collect data, algorithms capable of cleaning data, learning methods to build statistical models and mechanistic models fitted from data can be used to design policies. Carnegie Mellon University, a renowned education centre, offers a joint PhD programme in Machine Learning & Public policy that addresses problems ranging from disease pandemics to crime with the objective to apply the knowledge to the public good.Smart Cities, a hot topic today also uses algorithms and machine learning for the purpose of having hyperconnected intelligent urban spaces. Prelert is a company doing machine learning anomaly detection, it has partnered with a big city (no mention of the name) to reduce traffic congestion by prioritising response time on critical incidents. The report says that effectively there was a massive traffic reduction. The company's core service is machine learning and it can be applied to almost any problem of modern society (as long as it involves sensors and big data).Internet of Things (IoT) and machine learning can help us cope with major challenges that previously would have cost a fortune and this can definitely improve people's lives. Whether it is in Africa's fields or in any big city it can make a difference for the good.
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