When I started my career in the semiconductor industry, I was elated by all the amazing technology from fast moving robots to ion accelerators which bring atoms to a percent of the speed of light. Part of my job was writing new “recipes” that, much like a cooking recipe, specified what the settings the machine would use such as voltages and power. With 30+ parameters these were very time consuming to create and after doing dozens of them, it quickly became tedious with many consistent patterns. Rather than keep doing the same thing over and over again, I decided to write a simple extension in Excel which autogenerated the recipes for me! This took the process of creating a recipe from hours to minutes. It was a huge time saver! Most importantly it freed me up to work on new more creative projects that were not only more mentally stimulating, but also more rewarding for the company!
Right now, terms like Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are at the peak of the hype cycle as highlighted by this recent study (Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017). There is a lot of hype because there is a lot of potential, unfortunately the people who know how to harness this power are few and far between. Nonetheless, building software that can solve complex problems and perform tasks not even possible humans has tremendous potential to transform the economy and sustain or accelerate the amazing growth in GDP we’ve seen over the last 50 years. What does this mean for your job or your day-to-day life?
Take a minute to consider some of the tedious things you have to do every day or week. What are the tasks that you’ve completed dozens of times in the past and are now so routine you can listen to a podcast or youtube video while getting the job done? Perhaps, it’s the weekly budget report you need to tie together? Or that marketing material? Or yet another blog post?
What if you could automate the tedious work and add then simply add that final touch? Machine Learning enabled software can learn how to perform repetitive tasks provided there’s a way for the software to interface with the current software and there’s many prior examples to learn from. The best situation is if there is a pre-existing Application Programming Interface (API) which means that all the buttons you click on or the forms filled out can also be done with code. Of course, building this automation is not trivial so it is best to find opportunities which are being done by teams of people and will yield a huge Return On Investment (ROI) for the time and money spent building software.
What repetitive tasks at your company is being done by dozens or hundreds of people? Rather than hiring an entire team of software developers and data scientists, projects can be easily outsourced to companies that are ready to hit the ground running to solve your project and free you from the tedium of mindless work. Leave a comment below with any tasks that you’d like to automate or feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about what is possible with Machine Learning.