Today and yesterday, I spent hours and hours doing repetitive work between my browser and Excel. I had a list of terms to search for and had to copy down the results I found back into the spreadsheet, with links. It was so long, I had to just stop sometimes to prevent myself going mad!
The whole time, I was lamenting my lack of knowledge of automating work outside of Excel, interacting with the Web browser and so on. If I could do that, that work would have taken me no time.
Because I don’t know how to do that and I would like not to have to do it again myself for a while, I started wondering about Machine Learning, and more specifically, Machine Learning as a Service, or MLaaS.
This isn’t an area I thought I would need to look into, so my knowledge is very lacking here, but I do know how many things I could automate if I knew how to write the code and I can’t imagine machine learning would be unable to handle something I could, as long as the patterns and rules are simple logic, which they are.
I’ve started looking for some MLaaS to providers, but it’s basically day one for me out there, so I hardly know what to look out for. I’ve signed up for a free Google Cloud Machine Learning account and am going to play with that a bit to get my toes wet.
Why don’t I just build it myself?
A lot of people like to recommend with things like this that you learn how to do it all yourself, increasing your value and thereby making yourself less replaceable. I’m the opposite, I actively seek out ways to replace myself, such as automating most of my reporting work away in my prior job. I want to be replaceable because I am constantly trying to grow and expand my skills.
When I discover something new and useful, my first point of interest is whether there is a free service that can do it for me, if there is, great, if not, I move onto the next question: is there a decent paid service?
If there is a decent paid service that can do it, even if I can learn and do the same thing for free, my preference is to go with the paid service. Why? Simple. If I stop there and learn how to be proficient at that particular level, that’s delaying my progress to the next level. I’m more interested in moving up than I am in expanding where I already am, learning how to do everything at my current level isn’t going to help me if I move up, except to provide guidance maybe.
My last question, if there is no paid service, is how long can I get along with the poor manual method I’m currently using? If it’s not something I need to do a lot, I’ll just do it the hard way now and move on, I can’t do everything to the best of my ability, some stuff you just need to get out of the way and move on.
I’m going to try out the Google service I signed up to and do a bit more research on MLaaS, maybe even more on the weekend.
As interested as I am in the potential of machine learning, I don’t think programming and developing those models is in my future, so I’m going to do what I can to find a simple solution for now or skip it, I’ve got bigger future fish to fry.