What is machine learning anyway? This three minute animation delivers an excellent simple explanation

After 50 years of false starts, incremental progress, ethical quandaries, and endless hype cycles, artificial intelligence may finally be ready for prime time. The biggest breakthroughs in recent years have been around machine learning, a specific type of artificial intelligence that uses neural networks—inspired by the human brain—that can analyze massive data sets, find patterns, and get "smarter" in the process. But are these algorithms really learning, in the human sense of the word?

In three-and-a-half minutes, this Scientific American animation takes us from early efforts to make computers imitate people through the emergence of machine learning all the way to today's dangers of algorithmic bias—code that embodies and amplifies its creators' prejudices.

screenshot from Scientific American video