Improving Customer Experiences Took Center Stage at Our Machine Learning Conference

By: Sebastian Rupley & Adam Kohler, eBay News Team

Top speakers, engineers and scientists joined to discuss data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and more.

In the video above, you can hear from conference participants and learn more about the collaboration that is now underway following the event.

 At eBay, machine learning technology has been breaking down borders for years. 

We brought together our employees and experts from the industry to dive deep into the possibilities of this technology at the first eBay Machine Learning and Data Science Conference, held in San Jose. It included hundreds of employees from around the world, top speakers and experts, and demonstrations from engineers and scientists.

eBay has been at the forefront of applying machine translation techniques to make commerce easier. For example, our automated machine translation tools have driven rapid expansion in markets such as Russia, where they are providing accurate translations of seller listings. Last week’s conference focused on increased innovation in our machine learning technology pipeline. Through auto-translation and other technologies, we can greatly reduce friction for users who are shopping across borders.

“Translating search queries is a very important step in providing our customers with localized shopping experiences,” said Tatyana Badeka, Senior Machine Language Translation Specialist.

For some specific examples of how eBay is actually applying machine translation techniques to make search queries much more effective, see this week’s post on that topic from the eBay Tech Blog.

Collaboration Between Global Tech Teams

A number of the speakers at the conference included data scientists and machine learning from a large variety of data science teams and backgrounds within eBay, but there were also experts from Google, professors with data science, computer science and economics backgrounds, an ex-leader from Amazon, and others.

“At the conference, we discussed the development of several interesting technologies at eBay, including the use of artificial intelligence in commerce,” said Hassan Sawaf, Senior Director and Head of Artificial Intelligence. “Many global teams expressed interest in collaborating on this topic.”

Several other participants took note of new opportunities to collaborate. Mitchell Wyle, Director of Engineering and Applied Science at eBay said that it was especially helpful to have engineers meet with participating scientists and show how they are applying machine learning concepts.

“I really enjoyed the one-on-one opportunities to connect with people and learn about what they’re working on,” said Nadia Vase, Applied Scientist in the Search Science team.

Why is machine learning, which incorporates pattern recognition and artificial intelligence concepts, such a hot topic right now? At eBay, it provides a direct path to improving customer experiences.

“The removal of friction is at the center of why we are all so interested in machine learning and data science,” Sawaf said. “These technologies can help us better understand user intent and needs, so that we can present users with the most relevant results according to their respective intents.”