There is Algorithm and then there is a self-learning Algorithm

There is a lot of noise about the importance and how machine learning is changing the world of business and thereby world around us. There is a lot of examples being shared about the success of recommendation engines of Amazon or Netflix or even some retail giants.

But is that really machine learning at work or is it still the work of some really smart and savvy programmers who have created an even smarter algorithm? Is the algorithm learning and creating a better algorithm than the one written by its creator? If yes, that would be a result of machine learning in action.

Contrary to popular or mainstream conversations, I have not really seen a lot of machine learning algorithms in play as we speak right now. We do have a lot of smart algorithms written by some very smart and savvy people, using a lot of data that seems to be powering the internet for now.

Have you seen algorithms in action, that continue to learn from the data that they feed on, by themselves and evolve? If yes, please do share them with us.