With more and more businesses investing heavily in Machine Learning, the field is set for a boom in the coming years – particularly within the private sector. In this article, we uncover 10 surprising ways machine learning is being used in today’s world – and take a quick look ahead to what’s on the horizon.

Among the handful of emerging technologies that will shape the future of global commercial progress, Machine Learning (ML) is arguably the most important. In fact, the numbers are staggering, with Machine Learning projected to account for a £630bn* economic dividend in the UK alone by 2035.

According to one study* – involving 300 organisations of different sizes, from a broad spectrum of industries – over half (57%) of UK companies have earmarked in excess of £1m for Machine Learning initiatives. That same report predicts a 10x return on that investment. 39% of those companies, meanwhile, admit to accelerating their ML activities due to Covid-19.

The message is clear: if your business is not investing in ML, you risk being left behind.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to investigate many of the ways machine learning is being used in 2020. But first, it’s worth asking: what exactly is machine learning?

Machine Learning: A Quick Primer

Let’s get the obvious distinction out of the way first: Machine Learning is different to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Where AI is all about computers emulating independent human thought, ML is much more about computers using data to extrapolate statistical conclusions. The more high-quality data a machine has to learn from, the more patterns it can draw and the better the predictions it can make.

So in short, Machine Learning is about problem solving – at speed, and to increasingly sophisticated degrees.

10 Ways Machine Learning is Being Applied in 2020

Another common fear that’s worth addressing is the notion that Machine Learning will lead to machines replacing human workers. In truth, ML is seen by the vast majority of companies as an addition – allowing human operators and workers to achieve more with the help of machines.

So when we talk about 10 ways machine learning will affect your life, we mean for the better.

1. Process Automation

Current applications here are plentiful. In financial services, they include the recording and retrieval of transactions. In the healthcare industry, health monitoring and wait time reduction. Or within manufacturing, a reduction in both defect numbers and production line downtime.

2. Healthcare

We mentioned healthcare above, but it’s worth expanding to illustrate the human impact ML can have in this area. A great example is KarantisCare™, an app we developed in partnership with start-up Karantis360, whose owner was inspired by the concerns she had with finding healthcare for her grandfather – a sufferer of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and brain cancer.

Designed for Apple and Android devices, KarantisCare™ connects to four different Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in a patient’s home and uses ML to effectively learn their regular routine, allowing it to alert healthcare providers if anything untoward happens. This means more comprehensive healthcare cover even in between carer visits, and offers the patient’s family greater peace of mind – while enabling the patient to keep living in their own home, without the need for constant in-person supervision.

Apps like KarantisCare™ are just one of the many ways ML is already being used in Healthcare.

3. Supply Chain Optimisation

Machine Learning can also help commercial businesses by forecasting product demand. If you work in the retail industry, this means more accurately predicting trends, buying appropriate inventory in the right numbers, and replenishing stock in advance of shortages for optimal efficiency.

4. Image Processing

Remember when FaceApp exploded in 2019, and people were sharing pictures of themselves aged into their nineties? That’s a great example of Machine Learning penetrating popular culture. FaceApp uses ML to extrapolate what you will look like decades down the line. That’s not the only application either, with Machine Learning already being used to clean up and restore old photos.

Anyone working in visual production can expect ML to be a constant companion in the years to come.

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5. Revenue Assurance

Revenue Assurance (RA) is all about a business improving its operational efficiency to reduce waste and boost profits. Machine Learning aids RA analysts by offering them informed insights and predictions. Not only does this lead to optimised working processes and greater efficiency – it also helps those companies avoid more drastic cost-cutting measures like mass redundancies. So rather than being a threat to people’s jobs, ML can actually help preserve them.

6. Fraud Detection

The other side of the revenue protection coin, fraud can eat significantly into a company’s bottom line. Machine Learning can aid internal fraud prevention teams by analysing transactional patterns and automatically blocking accounts, or sending out warning messages. You probably already experience it with your personal online banking – and that’s likely to be a drop in the ocean compared to the numbers it can help protect multinational corporates from losing.

7. Price Optimisation

Pricing is one of the main drivers of consumer behaviour – whether it’s in the business or consumer space. Staying competitive in the market while retaining the profits to build and grow a business can be a fine balancing act. It’s an act Machine Learning is already helping companies with. By applying intelligent pricing that adapts on the fly depending on a business’s strategy, wholesalers and distributors alike can see enormous benefits – especially in the healthcare and retail sectors.

8. Language Processing

If you’ve ever used speech-to-text software, you’re already familiar with Machine Learning when it comes to language. You’ve also benefited from it whenever you’ve talked to Siri, Alexa or Google on a smart device – whether it was to search the web, or translate a question into a foreign language. It just makes life easier – and can be especially handy for anyone with a visual impairment.

9. Vehicle Navigation

Machine Learning is behind the many systems which help pilots get from A to B, particularly on long-haul commercial flights. By ensuring they only need to steer the plane for a fraction of the journey time, ML reduces mistakes that can be caused by tiredness, and significantly improves the safety of long-distance transport. That same principle will play a huge part in the future rollout of driverless cars, too.

10. The Future of Machine Learning

As this article proves – ML might sound futuristic, but it’s definitely a technology for today. If anything, however, its future applications are even more exciting. They might include:

  • Videogames that adapt on the fly to give even more lifelike experiences
  • Cyborg tech that enhances or even replaces natural limbs
  • Advanced, speedy and incredibly accurate healthcare diagnoses and treatment plans
  • Interactive interfaces which can better help people control and learn from ML devices in a more fluid, innovative way
  • A universal translation system that adapts to accents, speech patterns and colloquialisms in real-time

So that’s 10 ways Machine Learning will affect your life – plus another five to watch out for.

* Appsbroker Machine Learning Insight Report 2020/21, available to download at https://info.appsbroker.com/lp/machine-learning-insight-report