Machine learning enables organizations to meet their future needs
With Singapore students leading globally in science and mathematics, according to an Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development study released in May, aspiring programmers here might do well to heed Mr Schmidt's advice and re-think traditional programming mindsets. Courses in machine learning are already being offered by the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Meanwhile, the Singapore Management University has set up the Living Analytics Research Centre, which works on data analytics and machine learning. Machine learning is the technology that powers Google apps that require lots of user interaction, such as Translate, Photos and Gmail's spam filter. The information generated from the interactions lets the apps continually improve. For instance, Google Photos gets better each time it tries to recognise and tag the pictures in a user's smartphone which contain cats as "cats". The learning takes place when the user corrects the app if it mislabels another animal as a cat. Photos would then retain this information for future images, thus "learning" what a cat looks like and building a bigger database for better image recognition in the future. For programmers, taking advantage of this technology will require a change of mindset as the method of programming has evolved. The basics will remain, said Mr Greg Corrado, a senior research scientist at Google who specialises in machine learning. However, machine learning will require more than just writing a program and debugging what goes wrong. "A lot of traditional programming feels like solving a puzzle. There are still parts of that, but this is more like a sculpture, where you're actually fashioning something, as opposed to solving a puzzle," he said.