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unsupervised learning

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Unsupervised learning is the training of an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm using information that is neither classified nor labeled and allowing the algorithm to act on that information without guidance.

In unsupervised learning, an AI system may group unsorted information according to similarities and differences even though there are no categories provided. AI systems capable of unsupervised learning are often associated with generative learning models, although they may also use a retrieval-based approach (which is most often associated with supervised learning). Chatbots, self-driving cars, facial recognition programs, expert systems and robots are among the systems that may use either supervised or unsupervised learning approaches.

In unsupervised learning, an AI system is presented with unlabeled, uncategorised data and the system’s algorithms act on the data without prior training. The output is dependent upon the coded algorithms. Subjecting a system to unsupervised learning is one way of testing AI.

Unsupervised learning algorithms can perform more complex processing tasks than supervised learning systems. However, unsupervised learning can be more unpredictable than the alternate model. While an unsupervised learning AI system might, for example, figure out on its own how to sort cats from dogs, it might also add unforeseen and undesired categories to deal with unusual breeds, creating clutter instead of order.

Georgia Tech profs explain unsupervised learning:

This was last updated in December 2016

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We'll see more unsupervised AI in our electronic gadgets for sure
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