Google’s recent announcement that its artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning courses will be made available to the general public free of charge highlights the rapid pace at which machine learning is becoming a part of everyday life.
This is according to Tom Schlebusch, co-founder and CEO of NMRQL Research, a local fintech player offering a machine learning-powered unit trust fund.

He says the initiative indicates that machine learning – essentially the study of algorithms that are able to learn how to solve a problem using data – is no longer a futuristic topic reserved for computer scientists in server rooms.

“These courses will provide additional easily accessible resources on machine learning, over and above the large number of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) that already exist on the topic, proving that it is fast -becoming part of daily life and has the potential to significantly improve the ways in which various industries operate. We need to recognise the benefits it offers and the crucial role it stands to play across a multitude of industries.”

One such example is the local asset management industry, Schlebusch says. “The benefits offered by machine learning in the area of investment management are tremendous.

“Traditional investment techniques that rely on humans’ processing of the relevant data inevitably fail to exploit unstructured data – such as news sentiment or social media conversations – because of its sheer size and lack of inherent shape or form. However, machine-learning algorithms can make sense of unstructured data and use it as inputs to optimise the investment decision-making process.

“Given the magnitude of data in investment decision-making, the application and development of state-of-the-art machine learning models serves to enhance our ability to make adaptive, unbiased, scalable, and testable decisions in our funds on behalf of our investors.”

The online course offered by Google is free of charge, and means that anyone can now take the same 15-hour Machine Learning Crash Course (MLCC) that has educated over 18 000 Google engineers.