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What's the difference between AI and ML?


Artificial or augmented intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become hot topics in tech, business, and our everyday lives. In fact, a Google News search for the term “AI” returned 26.1 million results within the last 24 hours alone. That’s around 300 results per second!

But the truth is that the tech behind what we think of as AI (Siri, Alexa, or Google Home) isn’t as much AI as it is a voice chatbot or query engine. It’s easy to misunderstand what AI is, and in fact, people often mistake AI and ML for each other.

So what are AI and ML?

While the two terms are related, they’re not exactly interchangeable. AI is the idea that a computer or machine can think in the same manner we do, like visual perception, decision-making, voice recognition, and translating language. ML, on the other hand, is a sort of subset of AI that instructs a machine on how to learn based on repetition and data processing—the more you feed it, the more it learns.

There are two kinds of robots: Mechanical and Software

Mechanical bots are the ones we typically think of when we think of robots. They perform physical tasks like automatically lifting heavy boxes in a warehouse or fulfilling a specific task in an assembly line. A dishwasher is an example of a robot we’re all familiar with; it automatically cleans your dishes when they’re dirty, but you have to load it with the dirty dishes and push a button to tell it to start.

Software bots are code, and they look nothing like mechanical bots that often need to be greased up in order to work.

Mechanical bots tend to give software bots a bad name because there’s confusion between what the two actually are. For example, here’s an entire compilation video of robot failures, starting with a human-like bot who states she’s going to destroy all humans. (Yikes.) That’s certainly not what its creators intended, and unfortunately, that creates a misperception that robots are incapable of doing what they’re supposed to.

But software bots have made greater progress than mechanical bots, and they’re making daily life easier for all of us. And because augmented intelligence and machine learning are getting more sophisticated every day. Again, the more data we feed them, the more they learn.

AI vs. ML

AI is a system that is created to sort and filter data to make it meaningful and actionable. An example would be creating a software bot that categorizes all the credits and debits in a spreadsheet. Of course, the software won’t get it right all the time, but here’s the kicker: unlike humans who are unpredictable in our ability to commit new and varied mistakes, bots will continue to make the same ones, enabling you to troubleshoot and eventually predict the mistakes a bot will make.

Moreover, the whole idea behind AI is that it continues to evolve and get better at what it does. Eventually, it gets to a point where it’s not only following the process and procedure for a given task, but it begins to test and achieve better results.

That’s where we get into machine learning. That software you create to categorize and make sense of the data has to learn what is and isn’t correct, what to flag as a problem and what’s acceptable, etc., and that’s done with algorithms and statistical models, or machine learning. AI starts with raw data and uses machine learning to produce helpful, informative results.


How Botkeeper uses AI & ML

Botkeeper was created to harness the power of AI and ML to make life easier for businesses by automating bookkeeping. A survey of small business owners showed that they spend on average 120 working days per year on their accounting. That’s valuable time that could be better spent on literally anything else!

Botkeeper connects to your accounting software to tackle everything from categorizing transactions to managing payroll—these are repetitive tasks based on patterns, so AI can easily handle them and virtually eliminate all opportunities for error. It’s not a perfect process out of the box, but neither is hiring and training a new bookkeeper.

The software also takes your data and generates beautiful, accurate, and consistent reports so that you don’t have to lift a finger to know the state of your business’ financials.

And rest assured that the tech is only one aspect of the Botkeeper approach to automated bookkeeping: an expert team of accountants are on standby to review all your AI accounting and make sure it’s correct. If there’s a discrepancy, then the software is adjusted to address it and prevent the error from surfacing again. That’s human-assisted automated bookkeeping!

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Overland Park, Kansas

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