9 Real-Life Machine Learning Examples

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Explore these examples of machine learning in the real world to understand how it appears in our everyday lives.

[Featured Image] A machine learning engineer works on a laptop in an open office space.

Machine learning systems mimic the structure and function of neural networks in the human brain. The more data machine learning (ML) algorithms consume, the more accurate they become in their predictions and decision-making processes. ML technology is so closely interwoven with our lives, you may not even notice its presence within the technologies we use every day. The following article recognizes a few commonly encountered machine learning examples, from streaming services, to social media, to self-driving cars. 

Read more: What Is Machine Learning? Definition, Types, and Examples

9 machine learning examples in the real world

These real-life examples of machine learning demonstrate how artificial intelligence (AI) is present in our daily lives.

1. Recommendation systems

Recommendation engines are one of the most popular applications of machine learning, as product recommendations are featured on most e-commerce websites. Using machine learning models, websites track your behavior to recognize patterns in your browsing history, previous purchases, and shopping cart activity. This data collection is used for pattern recognition to predict user preferences.

Companies like Spotify and Netflix use similar machine learning algorithms to recommend music or TV shows based on your previous listening and viewing history. Over time and with training, these algorithms aim to understand your preferences to accurately predict which artists or films you may enjoy.

2. Social media connections

Another example of a similar training algorithm is the “people you may know” feature on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly known as Twitter.) Based on your contacts, comments, likes, or existing connections, the algorithm suggests familiar faces from your real-life network that you might want to connect with or follow.

3. Image recognition

Image recognition is another machine learning technique that appears in our day-to-day life. With the use of ML, programs can identify an object or person in an image based on the intensity of the pixels. This type of facial recognition is used for password protection methods like Face ID and in law enforcement. By filtering through a database of people to identify commonalities and matching them to faces, police officers and investigators can narrow down a list of crime suspects. 

4. Natural language processing (NLP)

Just like ML can recognize images, language models can also support and manipulate speech signals into commands and text. Software applications coded with AI can convert recorded and live speech into text files.

Voice-based technologies can be used in medical applications, such as helping doctors extract important medical terminology from a conversation with a patient. While this tool isn't advanced enough to make trustworthy clinical decisions, other speech recognition services provide patients with reminders to “take their medication” as if they have a home health aide by their side.

5. Virtual personal assistants

Virtual personal assistants are devices you might have in your own homes, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, or the Apple iPhone’s Siri. These devices use a combination of speech recognition technology and machine learning to capture data on what you're requesting and how often the device is accurate in its delivery. They detect when you start speaking, what you’re saying, and deliver on the command. For example, when you say, “Siri, what is the weather like today?”, Siri searches the web for weather forecasts in your location and provides detailed information.

6. Stock market predictions

Predictive analytics and algorithmic trading are common machine learning applications in industries such as finance, real estate, and product development. Machine learning classifies data into groups and then defines them with rules set by data analysts. After classification, analysts can calculate the probability of an action.

These machine learning methods help predict how the stock market will perform based on year-to-year analysis. Using predictive analytics machine learning models, analysts can predict the stock price for 2025 and beyond.

7. Credit card fraud detection

Predictive analytics can help determine whether a credit card transaction is fraudulent or legitimate. Fraud examiners use AI and machine learning to monitor variables involved in past fraud events. They use these training examples to measure the likelihood that a specific event was fraudulent activity.

8. Traffic predictions

When you use Google Maps to map your commute to work or a new restaurant in town, it provides an estimated time of arrival. Google uses machine learning to build models of how long trips will take based on historical traffic data (gleaned from satellites). It then takes that data based on your current trip and traffic levels to predict the best route according to these factors.

9. Self-driving car technology

A frequently used type of machine learning is reinforcement learning, which is used to power self-driving car technology. Self-driving vehicle company Waymo uses machine learning sensors to collect data of the car's surrounding environment in real time. This data helps guide the car's response in different situations, whether it is a human crossing the street, a red light, or another car on the highway.

Read more: 3 Types of Machine Learning You Should Know

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