Machine Learning at McDonald

Yesterday I bought four Pollo Bacons at a McDonald in Cartago, the nearest large town, where I go shopping once a week.

The time before last it took a long time to get this same order – yesterday, not much time at all. I could see the manager himself, hard at work in the kitchen – making a lot of Pollo Bacons. What happened?

McDonald is completely automated. Everything that happens in the store – and I mean everything – is recorded, stored in a local database – and then uploaded to a Master Computer somewhere in the Computer Cloud. This computer then goes to work, analyzing all the data that it receives – and compares that location will all the other locations in Costa Rica.

The manager for this location (and there of four of them in Cartago) is told that his location takes too long to make a Pollo Bacon – and his salary is threatened.

He gets to work, right now!


Deep-Frying Data

Idle Words

I have been wading through the sewerage we have been forced to wade through every day. Looking for something worth reading. This I can recommend.

To get you started, consider this:

Today I’m here to talk to you about machine learning. I’d rather you hear about it from me than from your friends at school, or out on the street.

Machine learning is like a deep-fat fryer. If you’ve never deep-fried something before, you think to yourself: “This is amazing! I bet this would work on anything!”

And it kind of does.

In our case, the deep-fryer is a toolbox of statistical techniques. The names keep changing—it used to be unsupervised learning, now it’s called big data or deep learning or AI. Next year it will be called something else. But the core ideas don’t change. You train a computer on lots of data, and it learns to recognize structure.

These techniques are effective, but the fact that the same generic approach works across a wide range of domains should make you suspicious about how much insight it’s adding.

And in any deep frying situation, a good question to ask is: what is this stuff being fried in?

This guy has hit on the same thing that has bothered me.

If you feed garbage into a black box – you get garbage out of it. You can make it look pretty, and smell pretty – but it is still crap.

To Know is To Be

And conversely – to Not Know is to Not Be.

And the majority of the world’s population are like this – not knowing and not being. And fully intending to remain that way. If that means the world is going to hell – to their minds, this not a problem. And the faster it goes there, the better.

I hardly need tell you that this is not a desirable situation. It could not be more wrong – but no one can see anything wrong. Because they cannot see anything.

Is there any way out?

Maybe – and from an unexpected source – Machine Learning – a software technology that is fast taking over. It won’t change most people, but it is changing the ones that matter – the ones that control the Business world – or what used to be called Capitalism.

They are being forced to take more people into their decision-making processes. Especially the users of their products or services.

This is Democracy in new clothing. A new form that might actually work.

Why Machine Learning was Inevitable

From The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World

In retrospect, we can see that the progression from computers to the Internet to machine learning was inevitable: computers enable the Internet, which creates a flood of data and the problem of limitless choice; and machine learning uses the flood of data to help solve the limitless choice problem.

And you don’t have to be a Data Scientist to understand this. I can do it – sitting in front of my computer, in my pajamas, in rural Costa Rica!

All you need is the desire to learn.

That’s all!

Machine Learning


You don’t have to hang out in the Computer World very long – before some interesting stuff comes your way. It is looking for some receptive minds to lodge in. And my feeble 79 year old mind qualifies. Yours probably does too.

We live in a new era – post-Industrial, post-Capitalistic – post-Whatever.

This is threatening to many people – very threatening. But not to me – as far as I am concerned – anything would be better than the one we have now. That I am sick of.

I have been skeptical of Machine Learning – which scoops in lots of information, processes it, and them comes up with insights that didn’t exist before. But it is more – as this article explains.

This is also explained on this TED talk – which shows new computer techniques that are amazing  – but does not show how the human mind is still better at some tasks – such as producing these new techniques.