While these thoughts delve deep into philosophical questions about the machinery of the mind, it might be good to end this chapter with a brief discussion about the more direct impact that machine learning currently has on our society and what impact it could have in the near future.

Impact of AI on society

There can be no doubt that there is already a strong influence of machine learning on our society which is reflected by a wave of new start-ups. Speech recognition and natural language processing have advanced to a level where we now have electronic personal assistants. While such electronic personal assistants might merely be fancy toys or minor conveniences for some people, they can dramatically improve the quality of life for others.

Of course, there are many potential problems with this technology, such as the potential for providing unintentional access to personal information via sending speech through the Internet and processing it remotely. Thus, while the machine learning components are important enablers of such technology, it is difficult to reconcile the fact that some of the worries attributed to AI\text{AI} are instead related to web technology. Indeed, machine learning might be part of the solution here, because the speech recognition and natural language processing aspect could be run locally, instead of using a backend that requires that information to be sent to the cloud.

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