The Fundamental Limits of Machine Learning

Photo from Wikicommons A few months ago, my aunt sent her colleagues an email with the subject, “Math Problem! What is the answer?” It contained a deceptively simple puzzle: She thought her solution was obvious. Her colleagues, though, were sure their solution was correct – and the two didn’t match. Was the problem with one of their answers, or with the puzzle itself? My aunt and her colleagues had stumbled across a fundamental problem in machine learning, the study of computers that learn. Almost all of the learning we expect our computers to do – and much of the learning we ourselves do – is about reducing information to underlying patterns, which can then be used to infer the unknown. Her puzzle was no different. As a human, the challenge…


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