Graphic overlay of blue lines against cityscape representing machine learning and AI

Machine learning and AI are both incredible technological developments that are being researched and used today in many industries. However, individuals sometimes struggle to get their head around the difference between these two concepts. In this article, we’re going to help clear up any confusion you may be experiencing surrounding AI and machine learning, so you can understand if either of these will be useful to your business in the future.

What is artificial intelligence?

To begin with, let’s dive into what artificial intelligence is. Artificial intelligence is a form of technology designed to think and make decisions in the same way humans do. You probably use forms of AI in your everyday life, such as Siri or Alexa. AI aims to interpret the information in the world around it and then react appropriately to the situation. It’s already being used within many industries today and can help to predict customer interactions, deter faults and fraud, and stop injuries from occurring. With technology advancing at a rapid rate, we are now seeing automated vehicles on the roads, which are a great example of applied AI. AI is a broad term that can be used to describe a wide range of developments, including machine learning.

What is machine learning?

One of the reasons that individuals get confused between machine learning and AI is that machine learning is actually a form of AI. Machine learning has gained more attention in recent years and aims to create machines that learn from data without having to be programmed. It’s a process that teaches computer systems to make predictions that were previously only able to be completed by humans. Therefore, machine learning can now answer common questions and make decisions for humans. Machine learning doesn’t require a human to write code to make the decisions, and instead, it uses a machine learning model to help the system understand the differences between data points.

Examples of AI in use today

AI is being used all around us, and you likely use a few pieces of technology involving AI almost every day. These are some of the most common applications of AI already being used by companies and individuals:

  • Self-driving cars – These are being developed by multiple companies, and they offer drivers a more relaxing and stress-free driving experience. Instead of having to think and navigate busy roads yourself, a self-driving car will do all of the hard work for you.
  • Robots – Robots are being used within manufacturing and are used to replace humans. The great thing about AI is that it never gets bored or tired of repetitive jobs, unlike humans do after a 10 or 12-hour shift. Robots can keep working throughout the night and improve processes and efficiency for companies.
  • Smart assistants – Smart assistants are probably the best-known example of AI. Alexa and Siri are used regularly in homes today, and you can find out what the weather is like, play your favourite song, or ask them to tell you a joke. These informative tools can be used for entertainment or information and are likely to continue improving in the future.
  • Virtual booking agents – If you’ve been looking at booking a holiday recently, you might now be assisted by a virtual travel booking agent. They can replace a person and search for the best deals for your upcoming trip.
  • Social media monitoring – For social media platforms, one of the biggest concerns is the safety and security of their users. Monitoring these platforms is a 24/7 job, but thanks to AI, it’s become easier to keep users safe from inappropriate and offensive content.

Machine learning applications

While you are probably quite familiar with the uses of AI, machine learning isn’t so easy to spot. These are some of the top applications of machine learning and how it’s already being deployed by companies:

  • Search results – Popular sites such as Google use machine learning to rank their search results. You’ll find they are laid out in a manner that puts the result you are most likely to click onto, at the top of the page.
  • E-commerce sites – Protecting individuals from fraud online is critical for e-commerce sites of any size. Machine learning can help to detect whether a transaction is fraudulent or authentic, protecting the business owners and other shoppers on the site.
  • Social media – Social media uses machine learning to make suggestions to users. It can detect information about your relationships and preferences based on how you use the site and then make suggestions for pages and people you may like to follow.
  • Investing – Financial companies have started to use machine learning to weigh up the risks of investing. They can also use this to decide who receives certain offers from their team, such as for an increased credit card limit.
  • Space exploration – Heading into space involves some of the most advanced technology out there. Machine learning is being used on space probes and radio astronomy and can help to offer astronauts a safer voyage into space.
  • Medicine – Machine learning is now being developed to diagnose diseases. The use of technology within the medical field is developing at a rapid rate, and now technology can build models of the brain and other body parts to predict where issues are occurring.

Where to go from here?

Machine learning and AI are both incredible technological developments that we are likely to see more of in the future. As machine learning is a type of AI, it’s easy to get confused between the two terms. While they have similar uses and aims, the way in which the technology is developed and deployed differentiates AI from machine learning. We understand that many people are still wary of AI and how it may take over from humans in the future, but there are also so many great advantages of this technology. We can’t wait to see how AI and machine learning are integrated into our world further, over the next few decades to make living life on earth even easier for humans.

Whilst you may not be ready to include AI or machine learning into your business, a custom software system tailored exclusively to your business may give your company the boost it is looking for. Check out how custom software may benefit your business, by taking a look at our case studies or contact the BSPOKE Software team for a free software consultation.