Many "smart" web services rely on algorithms that can learn and respond to new information; examples are Amazon's personalized recommendations for books you might enjoy, or iTunes music recommendations that are based on the music you buy. Now Google labs offers the online Google Prediction API (API stands for "application programming interface") service for software developers, providing an easy way to help create smart software that learns to sort incoming data. MIT Technology Review article on the new service explains that "Google's service provides a kind of machine-learning black box-- ata goes in one end, and predictions come out the other...For example, the Google-hosted algorithms could be trained to sort e-mails into categories for "complaints" and "praise" using a dataset that provides many examples of both kinds. Future e-mails could then be screened by software using that API, and handled accordingly."
Currently there is a waiting list for invitations to have access to the Prediction API.