Why your AI is not working

Your AI isn’t working because you have asked it the wrong question.

In the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, mice (who are actually super intelligent aliens) build a huge computer to find the answer to the Ultimate Question. After 7.5 million years the answer was finally produced.

It was 42. Unfortunately no one knew what the question was.

So the mice build a computer the size of a small planet (called “Earth”) to calculate the Ultimate Question. That turned out to be “What do you get when you multiply six by nine?”.

This type of problem is know in AI circles as the “Alignment Problem” and is commonly faced in business.

A company used ML to predict which customers would leave. The results were then used to target promotions at those customers enticing them to stay. They did not. The company should have asked a more focused question like “Given a budget of $x million, which customers should we target with a retention campaign?”.

This article provides some useful pointers on how to arrive at the right question.

🛎️ Why this matters: Asking the wrong question is the most common reason ML projects fail.

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