Into intelligent depths

Deep learning presents the organisation with an entirely new realm of unexplored wonders, and impressive potential, by Johan de Villiers, Managing Director, First Technology.




Deep learning defines a machine’s ability to simulate the vast potential of the human mind. It utilises algorithms, software, hardware and computational power to learn from the experiences and data which are fed into its database, and takes these learnings to uncover solutions, create simulations and so much more. It is an idea which has excited brilliant minds since as far back as the 1970s, but has never quite found a foothold thanks to limited computing power and data capacity. Today, however, those limitations are not quite as extensive as they were 40 years ago, and deep learning has become an accessible tool which the business can harness to achieve any number of impressive ends.


Today, deep learning is far more than an idea. It is a reality which has already permeated business and marketplace. Google, the search giant which is on every screen, uses deep learning in its voice and image recognition algorithms. The company has also recently purchased DeepMind, an artificial intelligence business which has created algorithms that allow machines to learn independently. DeepMind’s fundamental goal is to use deep learning to solve the biggest challenges faced by humanity. Just think of the benefits to the business should it be able to use deep learning to tackle issues which impact its sustainability, profitability and growth?


Predicting your outcomes


This is the potential of a powerful artificial intelligence capable of analysing business data at such speed and with such accuracy that it can show where the business is failing, identify issues or find more efficient ways of handling projects or performances.


Netflix and Amazon are also examples of deep learning success in action. Both have used recognition algorithms to assess customer preferences to improve experiences and engagement. While the results of the current algorithms may not always be perfect, they are close enough to make the technology worthy of the title. In the book, The Netflix Recommender System: Algorithms, Business Value and Innovation, Netflix reveals the algorithms which make up their system and how they influence the business. What is really relevant here is how deep learning has been used to improve Netflix audience engagement and retention as well as giving the company room to experiment with algorithms and data to define new business horizons and methods of engagement.


Future imperfect


However, in spite of all these achievements, deep learning is not quite at the point where it will match the capabilities of the h