Machine learning is a computer’s way of learning from examples, and it is one of the most useful tools we have for the construction of artificially intelligent systems.
It starts with the effort of incredibly talented mathematicians and scientists who design algorithms (a fancy word for mathematical recipes) that take in data and improve themselves to better interact with that data. The algorithms effectively “learn” how to be better at their jobs.
Consider the spam filter working in the background to block your junk email. Since it has “studied” a large set of sample spam emails, it can come to mathematically “learn” what spam email looks like and accurately identify new spam before it leaks into your inbox.
An excellent documentary called “The Smartest Machine On Earth” tells the story of Watson, IBM’s famous Jeopardy-winning supercomputer, and delves into how IBM used machine learning to make its creation into a game show champion.