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Microsoft To Launch Machine Learning Service 56

angry tapir (1463043) writes Microsoft will soon offer a service aimed at making machine-learning technology more widely usable. "We want to bring machine learning to many more people," Eron Kelly, Microsoft corporate vice president and director SQL Server marketing, said of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning, due to be launched in beta form in July. "The line of business owners and the marketing teams really want to use data to get ahead, but data volumes are getting so large that it is difficult for businesses to sift through it all," Kelly said. The service will have " interface called the Machine Learning Studio. The palette includes visual icons for some of the most commonly used machine-learning algorithms, allowing the user to drag and drop them into a visually depicted workflow." Algorithms themselves are implemented in R, which the user of the service can use directly as well.
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Microsoft To Launch Machine Learning Service

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  • by mmell ( 832646 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:26AM (#47251897)
    That machine wasn't merely a decision engine or a huge database - it was a learning system which was given a few months to learn all it could on a broad variety of subjects by crawling the internet. It wasn't programmed with rules to pair an answer with the correct question; it was a system which "learned" how to associate concepts. It was programmed to permit it to weigh its questions against how well they correlated to the answers - to determine a confidence level - but it wasn't specifically programmed to devise questions associated with answers. That's why the next publicly stated idea for the system was in medical diagnostics. It's another area where the ability to relate multiple seemingly disparate items of information with a non-static data store seemed to be of value.

    Giving the right programming, it might even hold a conversation better than a 13 year old Ukrainian boy.

    • Wouldn't you have to ask it questions in the form of an answer? But I suppose that's what diagnosticians do now I think about it.

      Six patients, one of which presents with a big hole in the head.

      What is russian roulette?

  • by AlienSexist ( 686923 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @12:32AM (#47251925)
    WEKA [] is Open Source, has an adequate GUI, many different kinds of algorithms available, and a "knowledge flow" visual designer for you to chain it all together. I've used it in a few personal and professional projects to find things like which variables most strongly influence an outcome, decision trees, derived formulas and expressions that accurately predict outputs from inputs, and various kinds of data visualizations for clustering data samples. Code is in Java so I presume you could embed it within a system to automatically perform analysis and swap algorithms on the fly. Best of all, since this is software under your control, and not a Corporate-offered service, your valuable data never leaves your control.

    I think WEKA already did a lot to make these kinds of data analysis accessible as Microsoft is aiming to do. No matter who provides it to you, there is something totally awesome about being able to click a few buttons and get some interesting results to munch on.
    • Re:Give WEKA a try (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:22AM (#47252063) Homepage Journal

      I have only one problem with fancy GUI that allow you to train a predicting model in 2 clicks: how confident can you be in your model, since all the parameters are masked and you have no knowledge about them? I still think it is dangerous to rely on a tool you don't understand and you can't control up to a satisfactory level, especially when it is to be used in prediction - something we expect to be highly reliable in many aspects due to old development of science like balistics.

      I've written a ML library myself (also in Java, more lightweight than weka, but with no gui - although it comes with standalone binaries for some basic setups) and I can tell you there is no good default tunning that works well for every kind of situation. ML is seriously a young science that gets rapidly tricky even on very common problems, which is very different than field for which we have very accurate solvers that work most of the time (again balistics is probably a good example, at least because it is taught in school and sets the prototype of what we name science). I fear hidding the youth (and thus the imperfection) is only going to cause damage through misconception and false interpretation.

      • by radtea ( 464814 )

        I have only one problem with fancy GUI that allow you to train a predicting model in 2 clicks: how confident can you be in your model, since all the parameters are masked and you have no knowledge about them

        This. Expecting people with no knowledge of statistics, programming, or machine learning algorithms to develop appropriate models and interpret them correctly is unrealistic.

        I've worked on applications that attempted to bring machine learning to the desktop for specific tasks, and it failed because naive users were simply not able to bring the required knowledge and nuance to the table. It made experts better (I still use the program myself now and then) but there was a threshold below which it was useless.

    • Re:Give WEKA a try (Score:5, Informative)

      by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @01:53AM (#47252141)

      Having used Weka, sklearn, vowpal wabbit, Orange, and lots of others - I'd say that Weka is my least favorite, it is slow and has crappy memory management. I do use it occassionaly for feature ranking and reduction, but rarely for the actual machine learning.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I actually worked on this project and I can say from using it and WEKA that this is much, much more user friendly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The R programming language is fully GNU. And now microsoft wants it. Expect them to take it, then try to claim it, and then when they can't, try to make their own, and drag everyone away from it (bringing a world of hurt to all involved).

    • Microsoft has been doing [] Python [] for over 3 years now. A lot of people "expected them to take it, then try to claim it, and then when they can't, try to make their own, and drag everyone away from it", but it hasn't materialized yet.

      Have you considered that your preconceived notions of Microsoft are a decade old, and it's might be a different company run by different people by now? Or that there's no business purpose in anything beyond "embrace", if you can just use it as a selling point to sell a product to

  • Machines realizes nothing gets done with the Windows OS; too much bloatware, too many backdoors and defrag/antivirus required to run the OS--immediately switches to free, libre software and never looks back.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I mean, they have a lot of products and very few, if any, are examples of good machine learning.

  • Let's hope journalists will not be told about this tool. I'm getting tired of repeating that correlation does not imply causation.
  • They advertise that the Microsoft Cloud gives the Lotus F1 Team the winning edge

    Lotus haven't done much winning this season, they are the eighth team out of 11 in the constructors championship

    • Nobody watches F1 anymore anyway. Its just an out of touch travelling fashion show with cars these days with utterly boring racing and overpaid drivers who've all had a personality bypass. Eventually it'll disappear up its own exhaust pipe with barely a squeak of tyres and nobody will even notice.

    • Microsoft also partner with McLaren F1 to produce the engine ECU :)

  • by fph il quozientatore ( 971015 ) on Tuesday June 17, 2014 @05:54AM (#47252717)
    So, R is being Embraced []. I wander what's coming next...
  • We keep getting news about automated weapons, cheaper and cheaper drones, and now machine learning.

    Everyone saw the Terminator movies, right?

  • Where you can draw a visual workflow.

"The number of Unix installations has grown to 10, with more expected." -- The Unix Programmer's Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972