With Edinburgh and Stirling universities making massive strides in machine learning and producing highly qualified data scientists, Scotland is well placed to lead in this field, and meet demand even in the face of the skills shortage affecting much of the UK. The biggest takeaway from the second ScotML night’s event is that machine learning in Scotland will play a huge role in all of our lives.
Sometimes confused with Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning is a related model based on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. Though the term is nothing new, originating in the late 1950s, it has now become a major buzzword. The main reason for this, because it is applicable in almost every industry imaginable.
We are seeing clients in every sector looking to use machine learning to make money or save money. Whether it’s retail, banking or sports, it’s difficult to think of one industry where there is no practical application.
Machine Learning as a Disruptive Technology
There are now companies implementing machine learning models to predict when appliances will break down. Constant monitoring enabled with cognitive machine learning technology can immeasurably improve predictive maintenance in manufacturing. Digital Twin technology uses machine learning to create a virtual model of a product or a service that can be used to trace irregularities and diagnose failure situations before they happen, and also to plan ahead using simulations.
Just some examples in which machine learning has the ability to radically disrupt industries. As seen last night, this kind of tech can be utilised in some very real and exciting ways. For instance, one of the first talking points from the event was Elias Mistler, of data analytics startup Previse, who spoke about implementing AI and machine learning to enhance supply chain management, saving on money and time.
In his talk “Making Data Pay – The Previse Instant Pay Algorithm”, Elias explained how Previse helps corporate buyers to safely ensure they pay all of their suppliers instantly, eliminating the need to rely on expensive short-term credit and lowering the cost for buyers.
This also gives SMEs the confidence to reinvest growing their businesses and, in turn, helps boost the economy. Also speaking on the night was Boris Mitrovic, Senior Data Scientist at Mudano, who discussed the use of machine learning to solve common planning fallacies that often arise from basic human biases such as optimism or confidence, or even procrastination. This uses machine learning to capture large amounts of data, to predict the path of a subject and foresee any issues, and ways in which to improve productivity and increase functionality.
People Skills Are Still Needed
As IT recruitment specialists, we’ve seen the effect that the emerging popularity of machine learning has had on the technology industry. Even in the recruitment industry, there is huge potential for automation to be used in recruiting for high-volume roles in contact centres and customer service positions.
Of course, machine learning applications can’t quite do everything and the more sophisticated and nuanced ‘people’ skills needed for something as complex as recruitment is not going to go away. More and more companies are looking for data scientists, trying to get ahead and stay on the trend – and this is where Scotland’s enviable University culture is especially important.
Having one of the best Informatics Schools in the country – perhaps even the world – at the University of Edinburgh, will prove to be an essential asset in years to come.
Machine Learning Can Support Clinical Decision Making
The third speaker on the night was Dick Wall, from TrustMarque Solutions. He spoke about the capabilities of Machine Learning to lend support to clinical decision-making and processes. Using enhanced data visualisations, TrustMarque worked alongside The Christie NHS Foundation Trust to develop software to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.
Despite the strides being made every day, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the full capabilities of machine learning and what it could mean for the tech industry – in fact all industries. From what was seen at last night’s ScotML, there’s clearly an appetite for the subject and for events like this in Scotland’s vibrant meet-up scene, and definitely a place for ScotML. We’ll be back again next year, bigger and even better.