The Hard Thing about Machine Learning

I wrote a post on the hard parts about machine learning over at Rubikloud:

Here's a blurb:

Much of the buzz around machine learning lately has been around novel applications of deep learning models. They have captured our imagination by anthropomorphizing them, allowing them to dream, play games at superhuman levels, and read x-rays better than physicians. While these deep learning models are incredibly powerful with incredible ingenuity built into them, they are not humans, nor are they much more than “sufficiently large parametric models trained with gradient descent on sufficiently many examples.” In my experience, this is not the hard part about machine learning.

Beyond the flashy headlines, the high-level math, and the computation-heavy calculations, the whole point of machine learning — as has been with computing and software before it — has been its application to real-world outcomes. Invariably, this means dealing with the realities of messy data, generating robust predictions, and automating decisions.


Just as much of the impact of machine learning is beneath the surface, the hard parts of machine learning are not usually sexy. I would argue that the hard parts about machine learning fall into two areas: generating robust predictions and building machine learning systems.


I'm Brian Keng, a former academic, current data scientist and engineer. This is the place where I write about all things technical.

Twitter: @bjlkeng



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