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Many people are eager to be able to predict what the stock markets will do on any given day — for obvious reasons. But machine learning algorithms are getting closer all the time. Many prestigious trading firms use proprietary systems to predict and execute trades at high speeds and high volume. Many of these rely on probabilities, but even a trade with a relatively low probability, at a high enough volume or speed, can turn huge profits for the firms. And humans can’t possibly compete with machines when it comes to consuming vast quantities of data or the speed with which they can execute a trade.
Machine learning algorithms can process more information and spot more patterns than their human counterparts. One study used computer assisted diagnosis (CAD) when to review the early mammography scans of women who later developed breast cancer, and the computer spotted 52% of the cancers as much as a year before the women were officially diagnosed. Additionally, machine learning can be used to understand risk factors for disease in large populations. The company Medecision developed an algorithm that was able to identify eight variables to predict avoidable hospitalizations in diabetes patients.
The more you can understand about your customers, the better you can serve them, and the more you will sell. That’s the foundation behind marketing personalization. Perhaps you’ve had the experience in which you visit an online store and look at a product but don’t buy it — and then see digital ads across the web for that exact product for days afterward. That kind of marketing personalization is just the tip of the iceberg. Companies can personalize which emails a customer receives, which direct mailings or coupons, which offers they see, which products show up as “recommended” and so on, all designed to lead the consumer more reliably towards a sale.
Machine learning is getting better and better at spotting potential cases of fraud across many different fields. PayPal, for example, is using machine learning to fight money laundering. The company has tools that compare millions of transactions and can precisely distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent transactions between buyers and sellers
You’re probably familiar with this use if you use services like Amazon or Netflix. Intelligent machine learning algorithms analyze your activity and compare it to the millions of other users to determine what you might like to buy or binge watch next. These recommendations are getting smarter all the time, recognizing, for example, that you might purchase certain things as gifts (and not want the item yourself) or that there might be different family members who have different TV preferences.
NLP is being used in all sorts of exciting applications across disciplines. Machine learning algorithms with natural language can stand in for customer service agents and more quickly route customers to the information they need. It’s being used to translate obscure legalese in contracts into plain language and help attorneys sort through large volumes of information to prepare for a case.