Futurists and science fiction writers have created some high expectations over the years. “Where’s my flying car?” has become a classic rhetorical question as people look back at the incredible technology predictions of the past. We do carry some powerful machines—called smartphones—in our pockets, but we do not commute Jetson-style. Yet.
And as much as we’re ready to embrace a whole new approach to driving, popular science fiction has made us wary of other futuristic predictions, such as machines that learn. Machine learning is part of artificial intelligence, which has been the inspiration for a lot of science fiction and comic book characters—machines that learn and then somehow evolve into “living” villains.
But hold the smartphone! Forget the idea that because machines can learn they will inevitably become sentient and turn on humanity. Forget the idea because there are too many technological and plot-driven leaps to that thinking. And forget the idea because machine learning—learning to analyze data and complete tasks based on that learning—doesn’t bring machines to life and create bad guys.
Today’s real-world machine learning doesn’t create supervillains, but it is becoming an engine for discovering medical cures, improving business decision-making, and a lot more.
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In this issue’s cover story, “AI,” writer John Soat discusses artificial intelligence in general—in places such as autonomous cars and smartphones—and machine learning in particular, with a focus on how it is being developed at Oracle and built into multiple Oracle products and services. Soat explores the operations of the Information Retrieval and Machine Learning Group within Oracle Labs and how that team identifies Oracle products, services, and features that can benefit from machine learning. He also interviews a variety of Oracle subject matter experts, including those involved with Oracle Management Cloud services, Oracle Marketing Cloud services, and Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Service. The machine learning features in those services are improving service performance, customer retail experiences, the business use of Internet of Things (IoT) data, and more.
In this issue’s interview, “IoT at Work,” Siddhartha Agarwal, vice president of product management at Oracle, continues the machine conversation, describing Oracle’s IoT strategy and key features of Oracle Internet of Things Cloud Service.Machines in the Future
Expect to hear a lot more about machines, including mobile devices, data center infrastructure, cloud infrastructure, and the IoT, at Oracle OpenWorld 2016 in San Francisco, California, September 18 through 22. Registration is open, and we look forward to seeing you there.
Tom Haunert, Editor in Chief
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Photography by Bob Adler/Verbatim and rawpixel.com/Unsplash