Women 2.0 save 50% on tickets to the Large Scale Machine Learning workshop (July 9 in San Francisco).

By Courtney Burton (Assistant Producer, Sessions Events)

There’s a revolution happening in technology. We’ve recently crossed over into a new age. The age of Big Data. If you haven’t heard already, Big Data is, according to the Wall Street Journal, “the next big thing”.

If that’s true then big learning is the next next big thing. In reality the two are intimately connected. Big data simply means working with massive data sets to gain insights. For example analyzing all of the real-time data from Twitter, what’s trending, why, what it tells us about the world and what that insight allows us to predict; like world events, market trends, local news and more.

Machine learning is the perfect tool to pair with big data.

Machine learning combined with big data can detect patterns and massage insights from the glut of information. Generally learning systems work better with large data sets, like the spam filter in Gmail, more data means more signals for the system to learn from. Large scale machine learning or big learning is finding applications in every business sector from advertising to zoology and everything in between.

Open source software and algorithms have been improving quickly and the cost of high-power distributed computing has been falling dramatically thanks to cloud computing solutions like Amazon’s EC2. This has lead to an explosion in startups leveraging machine learning and big data to do amazing things.

The possibilities are exciting and a little scary.

This technology can change the way everything works. Everything is an information problem at some level.

Think about a secure opt-in application that correlates all of the data that surrounds each individual. Things like purchasing history via credit card bills, medical history, social data, occupation, location data… and analyzes the data for patterns?

What could be discovered? Could cancer be predicted? Could analyzing this data lead to new ways to predict a disease before it takes hold by finding patterns and quickly detecting previously unknown pathogens? Possibly. Medicine is one area where Big Learning could have a huge impact. What about dating? Advertising? Law? Most things can be looked at as information problems.

I linked above to this WSJ article shouting that big data has a big shortage of qualified people and machine learning is one of the core skills of data scientists. So how do you gain the skills?

There are lots of great resources and more coming each day.

One place to start is Stanford’s free machine learning class which has been very popular. To see how large scale machine learning and big data are being applied to everyday applications you are already using like Twitter, Netflix and Pandora, you should check out the full-day Big Learning Workshop on July 9, 2012 at the Westin in San Francisco.

Save 50% On Tickets!

Women 2.0 members get a 50% discount when you register here for the Large Scale Machine Learning Workshop (July 9, 2012 in San Francisco) – as we’d like to encourage more women to get involved in this cutting-edge field.

MLconf will include presenters from top companies like Netflix, Intel, IBM, Facebook, and many more. There will also be academic presentations from top schools like Carnegie Mellon’s Machine Learning department, Graph Lab, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and others. Please visit our participants’ list to see the full list.

Sign up now for to take advantage of early-bird prices and hope to see you there!

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.

About the guest blogger: Courtney Burton is an Assistant Producer at Sessions Events, where she produces events including geekSessions, bizSessions, OPSconf and MLconf. She’s currently working on producing MLconf’s Big Learning Workshop with Carnegie Mellon University, the first in a series of MLconf events focused on Large Scale and Applied Machine Learning. She works with many of the top technology companies in the San Francisco Bay Area as Senior Technical Recruiter at Wildcog.